In the last column we promised to revisit some of the impacts of the expected Federal Reserve interest rate hike this June, and perhaps several additional hikes this year. If you have an adjustable rate mortgage or a credit card, where the interest rate is tied to the prime rate, you already know from recent rate hikes that your interest rates are going to go up.
That’s the reality of those who are on the borrowing side of the borrowing-savings paradigm. So what about those on the
savings side? The reality is that although savings rates on certificates of deposits and savings accounts will continue to increase, they will not increase in lockstep with the borrowing rates. What has become clear is that the best savings rates will, at least for the short run, likely continue to be offered by the online banks, and not the bricks and mortar banks with higher overhead. So if you are looking for a greater return on your savings, without the risks of the stock market, you need to look at those online banks. CD rates are approaching 3 percent, and the regular savings rates are better than traditional banks and credit unions.
By the way, most experts following the issue of rising savings rates by the bricks and mortar banks believe that what could result in a breakout of those rates would be if one institution in a market raises its rates and advertises and markets its increases. Then others in the market will have no choice but to follow suit in order to remain competitive.
If you are a CD investor, you know about layering your CDs (a portfolio of CDs with different maturity dates to protect against increasing interest rates); Bump up CDs (usually a one-time option to increase the rate if the banks rates increase); and Step-up or Rising Rate CDs , (where rates can increase at specific intervals). The key is to look at all of these options and how they can fit into your specific income needs and overall financial plan.
Speaking about increasing interest rates on credit cards, it is significant that credit card debt is increasing and credit card debt delinquencies are also increasing. To me and others, it is significant because we have a low unemployment rate(under 4 percent), finally somewhat increasing wages, and what appears to be a final macro recovery from the Great Recession. I say macro, because clearly not everyone is a beneficiary of those macro statistics. The significance and concern is that if credit card debt is increasing in the relatively “good times,” what happens if we have another economic bump in the road or recession?
On yet another subject, and speaking about employment and wages, in the past in this column we have discussed artificial intelligence and what the impact might be on jobs and wages in the future. The concern is that it may result in a significant number of lost jobs, at least in the short run. This concern keeps bringing me and others back to the statements of Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, early in 2017, in which he supported a “universal basic income” system as a possible solution to the likely widespread unemployment that will result from automation. The idea is that all citizens would receive a standard amount of money each month to cover basic expenses, like food, rent and clothes. This is different than the recent “living wage” proposals by Sen. Bernie Sanders and others, which would include a federal jobs proposal that would guarantee a job with at least a $15-per-hour wage and health benefits to every adult American “who wants or needs one.” The bottom line is that I continue to tell students — and everyone — that you need to do everything you can to stay on the right side of automation, whether it is a job that cannot be replaced by automation, or a job that supports automation.
On yet another subject, I am finishing this column on the day when I finished my CARE financial literacy programs for this school year — a total of 120 in the middle schools, high schools and colleges. Fittingly, I finished up at Churchville Chili High School, the school where I first started 21 years ago, with a highlight. I often tell future college students to apply for those $500 or $1,000 scholarships that can really add up. I met Maddy, a senior, who is the “Poster Child” for following that advice. She has set a goal of continuing to complete one or two applications per week, with a final goal of 40. She has filled out 15 to date, and has already been awarded one $1,000 scholarship.
On a final subject, I am not a journalist by training, but in writing this column over the years, I have found that, in this time of 24-hour cable television and radio news cycles, with their constant “breaking news,” where my deadlines might be a week or two before the column is run, often an interesting insight that I may have has been beaten to death in the media by the time my column runs. It is just an observation, not a complaint.
John Ninfo is a retired bankruptcy judge and the founder of the National CARE Financial Literacy Program. Find his previous weekly columns at http://www.mpnnow.com/search?text=Ninfo or at http://www.monroecopost.com/search?text=Ninfo