So who else is tired of talking about 2009? I think we can all agree that this has been one of the most challenging years in recent memory. But before we leave this year and jump into 2010, let's take a look at some of the things we learned along the way.
Property values don't always increase- According to a recent article in the Baltimore Sun, the average sales price of a house in the Baltimore metro area in November was $260,000. This is a decline of 8% since last year and about equal to the average in 2004. In Maryland alone, almost 22% of homeowners owe more on their house than the property is worth. With the continuing softness in the economy, many experts feel that home values will not rebound significantly in 2010.
Saving is the new "consuming"- As credit card issuers and other lenders slashed available credit lines, cancelled credit cards, and raised interest rates, consumers realized how little they had to fall back on in an emergency. So consumers began saving at an accelerated rate and controlling their use of credit. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues into next year.
Consumers are taking greater control of their finances- Given all the above, the number one new years resolution in 2009 was managing their finances, eclipsing losing weight and stop smoking. There were numerous online tools available to help consumers organize and manage their whole financial life including bank accounts, credit cards, loans, and investment accounts. Web start ups like Mint, Geezeo, and Wesabe entered the market, while traditional players like Quicken Online and Yodlee continued their offerings. As bank customers look to their providers for help and advice, 2010 appears to be the year that many financial institutions will begin to offer these services as well.
So let's say good bye to 2009 and welcome in a new year. Here's hoping it is a little less "challenging" than the last!