The week in personal finance started promisingly. It appeared, albeit briefly, that the Hatfields and McCoys of politics would reach a deal on the federal budget. Then it looked, albeit even more briefly, that something called Plan B would prevent a tax hike for everyone except the richest of the rich.
By today it became clear that … actually nothing became clear. And that’s the problem.
Fortunately we directed our paranoia about the financial future in a positive direction — publishing a list of “7 money things to do before the year ends.” That list includes suggestions to take capital gains and bonuses before new tax rates kick in. In hindsight, we should have included an eighth thing — panic!
With fiscal cliffs looming, we assume things are going to get tight. So we offered some advice on dealing with loved ones looking for a handout. We also took a look at home equity loans and urged you to think twice before you borrow against your home to pay those new higher taxes — you could wind up homeless.
Banking on technology
There was also much to discuss in the banking industry.
First and foremost, we learned that the difference between what banks were taking in as deposits and what they were lending out was at its largest point in history.
Around here we tend to put our faith in new-fangled alternatives to the banking giants of old. But this week we learned that one of those new-fangled players might be forced to issue old-fashioned plastic cards.
We’re not convinced that’s going to happen. But we are convinced that big things are coming in mobile banking and payments. You should check out our predictions for 2013.
We also predicted what Discover’s new checking account will look like. But that was easy — the company forgot to hide the page that listed rates and terms.
But we don’t want to be too mean about Discover’s error. Mistakes happen. In fact, it appears that they happen a lot on our credit-card bills. That’s why we’ve become such fans of BillGuard — the system that’s designed to stop “gray” charges and fraud. You should read our review.
After a week like this, we’re ready for a break. And we’re taking one! MyBankTracker will be closed until after Christmas. We’ll be back on Dec. 26.
By the way, your bank is taking a break too. Check here to see what holiday hours are for your bank.