Expect 5 trends as banks look for new ways to make money and attract new customers.
Banks are adjusting to a new environment, one with stricter regulations, fewer opportunities for big risks and heavy public sentiment against them.
In that light, Mintel Comperemedia, a provider of direct-marketing intelligence, is forecasting five major changes for banks in 2010.
"Based on evidence from recent direct marketing, I see waves of change ready to wash through the banking industry," said Susan Wolfe, vice president of financial services at Mintel. "From the fall of free checking to the rise of comprehensive banking rewards programs, banks seem poised to make 2010 a year of innovations. The biggest challenge will be finding new opportunities for revenue."
The end of free checking.
Spending on home entertainment and communication is rising. Make sure you're not buying more than you need.
If you haven’t noticed when you pay your bills, the price Americans pay to be entertained and stay connected is rising.
According to The New York Times, the average American is expected to spend $997.07 this year for cable television, Internet and video game service, plus another $1,000 for cell phones. That’s up from $770.95 annually in home entertainment and Internet in 2004. According to The Times, “the average family is spending as much on entertainment over devices as they are on dining out or buying gasoline.”
Your smart phone might help you get a date, but it can also steer you wrong.
Before your next date, prepare your cell phone to serve as your wingman.
Smart-phone applications aim to help users with every stage of a relationship, from hunting for a date to wining and dining to breaking up. While some of the advisory apps are free, others are pricey -- a background check on your dinner mate might run $40 -- and the information can be inaccurate.
Just remember: It's rude to pay more attention to your phone than to your date, says Jodi R. R. Smith, chief executive of Boston-based etiquette consulting firm Mannersmith. That's true even if you excuse yourself to better review your next move. "You want to be careful of leaving your date alone at the table frequently," she says. "If they are attractive, that gives someone else time to move in."
Use these five apps to plan and hone your dating skills, but tuck the phone away before you make your approach.
Companies love them, but for consumers they're less than attractive.
With a new year, many of us may have the illusion that time management can be increased in our lives. Time management, weight management and money management are likely the three most popular resolutions that return to the scene year after year. It makes sense. But what doesn’t make sense are the little things in life that we continue to do even though they violate the promise we made to ourselves to do better.
One such item that can be a strain on both time- and money- management skills is the rebate.
Karl Rabeder has traded unbridled luxury for life in a two-room flat.
This kind of story gives you faith in humankind, or makes you feel you’ve entered the Twilight Zone: An Austrian multimillionaire is giving away all his money to charity in pursuit of a simple, happy life.
Happiness and self-realization eluded Karl Rabeder as he indulged in a supremely materialistic lifestyle -- a $2.2 million, 3,455-square-foot lakeside villa in the Alps, a farmhouse on 42 acres in Provence, six gliders, an Audi A8. His entire fortune was estimated at $4.7 million.
Rabeder, now 47 and divorced, lives in a two-room apartment in Innsbruck, and gets by on just $1,260 a month. “The worst that can happen to me is that I have to take a small job to get by,” he told the Daily Mail.
''My idea is to have nothing left. Absolutely nothing. Money is counterproductive -- it prevents happiness.''
Really? We’re not so sure about that. And, believe it or not, Rabeder has critics.
Expect more mobile coupons as retailers seek to reach phone-addicted millennials.
Expect this trend to continue. The Dallas Morning News reports that J.C. Penney is rolling out cell phone coupons nationwide next month, and 7-Eleven just finished a test in San Diego. Sears offers some mobile coupons via Cellfire, the electronic coupon site used by Kroger and other supermarkets.
The co-founder of Seventh Generation says detergent is often unnecessary. She does a test.
"Frugal Scholar," who must read everything of value on the entire Internet, stumbled upon an amazing remark in, of all places, The Wall Street Journal. In an article, Seventh Generation co-founder Jeffrey Hollender remarks that it’s surprising most people use laundry detergent at all: “You don’t even need soap to wash most loads,” he says. The truth is, it’s the action of the agitator, not the chemicals, that gets most clothes clean.
Uhmmm …. Say what, my Captain of Industry?
Most of us have figured out that we need only a fraction of the amount we were brought up to pour into the washer, partly because newer detergents are far more efficient and partly because you don’t really need even the recommended amount. But … no detergent at all?
Well, of course, the gantlet was down.
Survey shows fewer companies believe employees will have enough money for retirement.
Good news for employees: About 80% of medium-size and large companies that suspended or reduced their company match to 401k programs last year are planning to restore their matching contributions in 2010.
But, the same survey also showed that employers don’t believe their employees have the ability to save enough for retirement and are looking for ways to help -- short of adding pension plans, of course.
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ABOUT SMART SPENDING
Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
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