Watch Your Wallet in 2017

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 | 10:57 pm

The current outstanding balance of the U.S. national debt peaked to more than $19.9 trillion as of January 2017, meaning every man, woman and child in this country owes more than $65,000 in public debt.

And that doesn’t include your personal loans. It’s hard to wrap the head around but clearly necessary, we would add, as incomes have barely budged, financial discipline appears to keep slipping and expenses remain only manageable week by week for many.

So, what can we do to protect our wallets on a personal level now and in the near future?

David Misch, CEO of Community Bank in Pasadena, walks us through some food for thought.

Hoping the Trump Effect Pays Off

“If you had asked me before November 8th, I’d have said we’re looking at slow 2% growth in the coming future,” says Misch, “but now that Trump won, the election has changed the outlook on everything.”

“A lot of people think the new administration will be more beneficial for economic growth and that spending and deregulation could drive that change.”

“I’m not sure if this will happen or not,” says Misch. “It’s very unclear how it will all play out.”

What we do know is that the Federal Reserve decided in December to boost short-term interest rates and is talking about increasing rates three times over the next year.

“Banks’ stocks have reacted wildly favorably since this election because of the rate outlook and potential for accelerated GDP growth,” he says referring to that rate that tells you how fast a country’s economy is growing.

“The negative side,” says Misch, “would be if interest rates go up and you need to borrow money, then it’s going to be more expensive,” he cautions, noting he hopes the regulation changes will at least make it easier for first-time home buyers to get mortgages, especially the self-employed.

“Rising rates driven by economic growth could be also good for folks that have money in the bank, like nonprofits, small businesses and, obviously, banks,” says Misch, “but it could also be good for people in Pasadena looking for work.”

While it’s all a question mark at the moment, the best we can do is remain flexible.

Protect That Wallet by Not Clicking on Unsolicited Links

You should be vigilant to not risk your finances online, Misch says.

“Cybercrime is increasing all the time,” says Misch. “You click on a link these days and it puts a virus onto your computer, hacking your system. People have to be very careful.”

Phishing, the fraudulent act of sending emails purportedly from reputable companies in an attempt to steal personal information such as passwords and credit card numbers, has become commonplace.

To protect yourself, be cautious of emails coming from unrecognized senders, especially ones asking you to reveal personal or financial information, and never enter personal information in a pop-up screen.

Check your bank statements regularly and protect your computer with a firewall, spam filter and anti-virus software.

Tell Your Kids to Go Into Banking

“The banking industry is aging. A lot of men and women in it are nearing or over retirement age,” says Misch, who mentions that his own bank is looking to bring in more young people, namely Millennials, which make up the largest percentage of the population.

“It’s a good career, not as boring as it would seem to be,” he laughs and shares pictures of his headquarters, which has a Google-like atmosphere.

He concedes that more and more FinTech companies are popping up, offering credit to people online, and they are “hard to compete with because they’re automated” so their overhead is less.

He believes people will continue to come into brick-and-mortar banks, however, because it’s nice to put a name and face with the person working out your loan.

For more help with your finances, stop by Community Bank at 505 East Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena. You can also reach them at (626) 568-2265 or visit www.cbank.com.

 

 

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