Happy New Year, everyone!
With every new year there is hope that things will change for the better, but let’s be specific and just blatantly ask for six changes with banking and financial-world implications I want to see in 2014:
1. Tighter cyber security. No one needed a warning that hackers are getting more sophisticated and better equipped to take down major corporations with a couple keystrokes. But, hey, in case you did, here comes Target to give you 40 million reasons why you should be constantly, constantly, constantly updating your cyber security.
2. A higher salary rate. There are positive signs the economy is turning around or is even fully turned around. But one thing that hasn’t risen as quickly as it has in the past is the salary rate. According to the Social Security Administration, salaries rose 18.6 percent from 2003 to 2007. From 2008 to 2012, the latest year available, average salaries rose just 7.3 percent, or 1.8 percent a year. A rise in the salary rate would be a good indicator the economy is fully turned around, so let’s hope we see it in 2014.
3. Continued stock market growth. Warn about a stock market bubble all you want, I don’t care. Play it safe if you choose, hedge some bets here and there, but we should all be riding this wave while we can.
4. A governor’s race where everyone plays nice. I know. Let’s just move on.
5. A definitive debt ceiling deal. Even funnier. But it will come up again this year, and we’ll all be even more incensed than we were in October. And we were pretty fired up then.
6. A return to free checking. It’s getting more rare to find banks that offer free personal checking for consumers like me without high minimum balances. In 2014, PNC will be added to the list of banks doing away with free checking. Which stinks rotten.
But let’s see a couple of banks start saying, “You know what? There are enough ticked-off people by the whole thing that we’re going to keep our free checking and advertise the holy heck out of it so that people will want to come to us.”
I don’t ask for much in life, but free checking is one of them. The second I lose it, I’ll dump my bank in a heartbeat and put my money under my pillow. So feel free to come to my house and steal the $16 under there when it happens.
In reality, I’d find the one bank left with free checking, put my money there and patronize the life out of them by at least giving them first crack at my credit cards, car loans, anything I’d need a bank for. All simply because they were the bank that took a stand and decided to keep free checking.