Fifteen 2019 Personal Finance Events, Facts, and Trends

Irecently co-authored a journal article in the Journal of Financial Planning and conducted a webinar for the Military Families Learning Network titled 2019 Personal Finance Year in Review. Both discussed recent events, facts, and trends in the world of personal finance. Below are 15 items that were included:

§  More than 25 million taxpayers switched to claiming the standard deduction instead of itemizing

(only about 10% of tax returns included itemized deductions vs. about 30% previously)
§  The IRS unveiled a new tax form for taxpayers age 65+ and a redesigned tax withholding form for 2020
§  Morningstar announced that it is planning an evaluation system for cryptocurrencies
§  The average annual percentage rate (APR) on credit cards was 17%, the highest rate in > 2 decades
(Reason: Creditors are charging higher rates to offset generous rewards programs that eat into profits)
§  Robo-advisory firm Betterment started an FDIC-protected savings account with a 2.69% yield
(Other fintech firms such as Wealthfront and SoFi have also launched non-bank banks)
§  About 106 million credit card customers and applicants were affected by the Capitol One hack
§  Terms of the Equifax hack settlement were announced: 10 years of free credit monitoring or up to $125
§  Three Federal Reserve interest rate cuts took place in 2019, almost reversing 2018 rate increases
§  Average new light duty car prices increased to $37,401; the average new car loan is $32,119
(The average new car loan term reached a new high of 69.17 months or almost 6 years)
§  Auto loan delinquencies surged past Great Recession rates; 7 million borrowers are 90+ days behind
§  2019 was 50th anniversary of financial planning profession
§  29% of Baby Boomers age 65-72 are working/looking for work (the highest rate in > 50 years) while Millennials are approaching middle age in worse financial shape than every prior living generation
§  Payday loan protections to ensure that civilian borrowers could repay loans were rolled back by the CFPB
§  The print version of 47-year old Money magazine ceased publication
§  The 35-day federal government shutdown exposed the financial fragility of many U.S. households

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