We are less than 3 weeks from the start of 2013. Was 9/11 really over 11 years ago? Were the early 90's really 20 years ago? I still think of 1993 as quite recent.
Well, no matter how much we might wish that time would move a little more slowly during a satisfying retirement, a new year will bring new challenges and opportunities, disappointments and joys. Specifically, for those of us retired or soon to be, what are some of the bumps in the road and fresh chances to make a change that might lie ahead of us? I certainly don't have any inside information, but will take a stab:
...Downsizing or moving as housing markets strengthen. One of the goals of many of us is to downsize from our current housing situation. After the kids move out, travel increases, or there is simply a desire to spend less time cleaning and fixing, a smaller home, condo, or apartment beckons us. Unfortunately too many of us have been trapped in place by the real estate collapse of 2008-2010. Our present home won't sell for enough to pay off debts and finance a move to something smaller.
There are finally glimmers of better news. Phoenix, for example, has seen a rebound of almost 20% in prices since hitting rock bottom a few years ago. Other housing markets that took major hits are also reporting a slow but steady climb out of the hole. True, those prices are still well below the boom years just before 2008. But, we know now those astronomical house prices weren't real and couldn't be sustained.
2013 may see more folks being able to sell what they own and downsize or move.
...Bank fees will increase. Everyone's new favorite villain, mega-banks, are feeling the impact of some recent government regulations designed to reign in some of the worst of the "gambling" that took us all to the brink. While the industry continues to rake in huge sums of money, these new controls mean they are looking for ways to take more from us in the way of new fees and charges.
Read all the statements and on line information you receive from your bank. Don't be surprised when something that was free isn't, or something that was low cost is having a hefty increase. Of course, you can always switch banks but most of them will find a way to grab their pound of flesh.
...More will decide to delay retirement or go back to work. Some of this will be because of economic need. The financial damage done to IRA and 401(k) accounts will not be repaired easily. Others will find their company pensions or promised benefits cut or "restructured."
But, a growing trend is for folks to keep working because they enjoy all that comes with employment besides the paycheck: relationships with co-workers, feeling productive and needed, or having no real plan for retirement. While that last reason is one that can be addressed, some are most content at work and will stay employed well past the usual age to hang it up.
...Increased reliance on technology. This will be impossible to escape. Already many airlines charge extra if you want to make a reservation on the phone with a live agent. Banks are considering charges to use a teller instead of on-line banking. Many banks already charge extra if you want your statements mailed to you, and I'm not aware of any banks that will still return cashed checks each month.
Smart phones are becoming a digital wallet. Your credit cards will exist on your phone instead of in your purse or wallet. You will pay for items at the grocery store or the coffee shop by swiping your phone at the register.
Tablets are rapidly replacing laptop computers, which have already made desktops virtually obsolete. Newspapers and magazines are switching to digital platforms as quickly as they can and charging to access information.
Sign up for Social Security or Medicare, renew your driver's license, even pay that speeding ticket on-line. More books are now sold on-line, in digital form, than the printed versions. Amazon will sell you everything from refrigerators to a bag of kitty litter and ship it to your door. Netflix is moving to the elimination of disc through the mail, preferring all customers stream their movies and TV shows directly to the television.
...Entitlements & retirement age may be changing. While seniors have very loud and persuasive voice in Washington, there will be no choice but to scale back Social Security and Medicare payments and tighten eligibility. The full retirement age, already set at 67 for younger folks, will likely find its way to 70 over the next decade or two. The deficit and the country's demographics leave politicians little choice. No changes will affect anyone over 55, but younger generations will not see programs that look like ours.
The trend toward taking more personal responsibility for your own satisfying retirement will accelerate. Dependence on government or corporate efforts has proven to be shaky at best. Each one of us is ultimately in charge of how happy we are and how we choose to live.
What do you think might happen? What good, bad, and important trends or events might 2013 bring? Look into your version of a crystal ball and tell us what you see.