Ruly’s 8 Trends/Predictions for 2013 and beyond

A 2013 frosting extravaganza!

Happy New Year! 2013 is upon us and with it brings a fresh start, a new chance and great opportunities.
Where are things headed in 2013? After hearing so much about the “fiscal cliff,” you may feel that things are off to a somewhat gloomy start. As for me, I am not so worried about the fiscal cliff and have my mind focused on other trends.

Below, my list of 8 trends/predictions that will gain steam in 2013.

1. Road tolls. As we drove across the country this past summer, the one big surprise was the number of road tolls we encountered. We are used to getting on the highway and driving wherever we want. The main expense of driving anyplace is typically gas and car maintenance, with maybe an occasional bridge toll. But road tolls are coming, especially if there is a fiscal cliff. They are a great way for a locality or state to gain a steady stream of money. It was interesting to see on our trip that road tolls are also infectious. Once one state has them, neighboring states look at the pool of money flowing in and set up their own toll gate just across the state line. The feeling seems to be, “If you are getting your dollar, what’s the harm in me taking one too.” We are already going to start seeing them here in Virginia, with a new I-95 toll to be implemented somewhere between Richmond and DC.

One of many toll stops from our road trip last summer.

Planning ahead: Make sure your transportation budget has a little room in it for road tolls. At first, they won’t be very much but they could eventually become a not-insignificant expense. If you are considering a move that would require a long daily commute, plan accordingly.

2. Prices won’t be coming down for most things but providers will be expected to give a lot more to sustain their prices. Just like late-night infomercials where you receive “free gifts” with your purchase, providers of all kinds of things are going to be asked to throw in more for the same service. A friend of mine who is a successful wedding photographer, for example, offers to photograph the couple’s first child for free. The shop that services our minivan now offers a complimentary car wash with every service.

Planning ahead: If you are a businessperson, be on the lookout for easy and inexpensive add-ons that your clients perceive to have great value. If you are a consumer, shop around to make sure you are getting the best deal for your money or bargain for additional services.

3. The best paying jobs will ask more of you and it likely will be more than just long hours and hard work.
Good jobs will require things that are hard to come by, like an in-demand technology skillset, the ability to come up with inventive and profitable ideas, an aggressive sales temperament or the willingness to put your life on the line for a dangerous job. The days of the “easy,” high paying desk job may be over. There will be lots of competition for those jobs.

Planning ahead: If you are employed or job hunting, think about which hard-to-come-by skillset you have or could acquire. Stay up on industry trends and news and try to keep your education and skills current to where the industry is going, not just where it is now. The more you can try to look ahead, even if you go the wrong direction, will demonstrate a valuable future orientation.

4. Financial security will continue to become more elusive yet people will crave stability even more. It has been amazing to see what lengths people will go to for stability. Take, for example, the wife of the military general accused of extreme sexual misconduct who stands by her husband in part because she “risk[s] losing the financial security of military salary, pension, housing and health benefits.” Surveys of employees find that they would trade almost anything to get more guaranteed income in retirement, even reductions in current pay!

Planning ahead: Don’t assume that “stability” is there for you and start to get comfortable with that fact. It doesn’t mean you will starve. You might have to adjust your lifestyle or expectations, take on more risk in your investments or learn more about investing and money. My favorite quote on this comes from the book “Aftershock”

“Today, good judgment and taking risks are critical to making money and will be even more so in the future. In fact, good judgment and taking risks will be critical to simply holding onto your money in the future.”

–David Wiedemer, Robert A. Wiedemer and Cindy Spitzer, from Aftershock: Protect Yourself and Profit in the Next Global Financial Meltdown

Also, resist the temptation to look back at the past with rose-colored glasses. It has always been hard for people to accumulate enough money not to have to work.

“There’s a persistent misconception that there once existed a time when private sector workers typically retired with full pension benefits,” says ICI senior economist Peter Brady. “Many actually received little or nothing.”

–Ian Salisbury, “Pensions Not a Panacea,” MarketWatch Encore blog, November 13, 2012

5. End of the world phobias will continue. Just as we faced the Mayan calendar “scare” in 2012 and Harold Camping’s “end times” scare in 2011, there will continue to be more people who find some way to believe the end of the world is coming. It seems to me that the people who propagate and believe in these types of rumors find them . . . comforting! For some people, it would be far easier to just sit back and watch the entire earth implode than find the means to readjust their mindset and adapt to all of the changes the world is currently facing. Some entrepreneurial-minded fear-mongers also find that fear is as effective as a selling tool as promoting a benefit. For example, you are just as likely (if not more likely) to buy something when someone pitches it as “Buy this or you will die!” as “Buy this and your life will change dramatically for the better!”

Planning ahead: Don’t buy into end of the world phobias. For me, it helps me to remember history. While I’m sure there have been plenty of bleak times in history, for me, thinking about what life must have been like for those who endured World Wars I and II, when there was literally nowhere “safe” to go in the world, is sobering. As “bad” as some may perceive things are now, they are nothing like those difficult times. I’m not sure what kept people working toward the future then but if they can do it, certainly so can we!

6. We will continue to shift from tangible to intangible products although we will continue to value and expect more out of our tangible objects. Sometimes I wonder if the home of the future will have nothing more than a few items of furniture, some clothes in the closet and food. All other needs will be provided by handheld video screen, like reading books, drawing, creating music, playing games, etc. There might not be a single scrap of paper in the home. It will certainly make it easy for people to pick up and move at a moment’s notice but those of us who are more tangible oriented will certainly mourn the loss of the tangible. I think we will always crave tangible items but we may become more picky about what tangible items we choose to hold onto. We will want them to be extremely well-made or extremely meaningful or extremely clever or beautiful.

A sign at our local post office. I don't ever see the postal service going away completely. There is something so wonderful about "real" letters.

Planning ahead: If you are a maker of tangible goods, think ahead to how you can improve your object in a way that makes it a heartwarming experience for the buyer. You will have to work harder to earn the right for space. As an organizing student, make those same demands of items in your own home or office. Could you convert some of your paper to digital form? Could you enjoy the memory of something just as well from a digital photograph or video?

7. The days of the 30 year mortgage may be numbered. The 30-year mortgage has been a staple for many people but more and more financial experts are counseling that 30 years is just too long for the average person to take on the financial risk of paying a mortgage. Many are counseling 15-year mortgages instead. We have seen from recent economic challenges that staying employed in a good paying job for 30 years is getting to be a harder and harder promise to make. 15 years is certainly a far safer bet. Eventually, lenders may also come to the same conclusion. In the near term, the 30-year mortgage will continue to exist, of course, but whether it is a prudent choice for most people is another question.

Planning ahead: If you have a mortgage or are consider buying a home, do some research on whether you could afford a term shorter than 30 years. If you have the opportunity, certainly consider it.

8. Organization will become more important than ever! No, I am not saying this just for self-serving purposes. When we need to make the most of scarce resources, the premium on planning ahead, tracking progress, managing time and expectations, and budgeting for emergencies, errors and disasters is immense. I thought President Obama stated it well in a recent interview:

“One way or another, we’ll get through this. Do I wish that things were more orderly in Washington? And rational? And [that] people listened to the best arguments and compromised and operated in a more thoughtful and organized fashion? Absolutely.”

–President Obama in a Meet the Press Interview, December 30, 2012. (emphasis added)

Planning ahead: If you are worried about the state of the nation’s finances, make sure you are focusing on your own as well. Is there a financial guru you could follow for free (Suze Orman, Dave Ramsey, Ramit Sethi, etc.)? Be ready to identify areas of your life that could be affected by any changes in the government’s finances and get your game plan ready.

If you are feeling a bit gloomy about 2013, I’m sorry that many of my predictions don’t do much to paint a completely rosy picture. I don’t see 2013 as gloomy but it will certainly be challenging in many ways. We are doing our best to roll with the punches and plan ahead the best we can. We are also counting on having a lot of fun along the way.

I wish you all a very Happy 2013 and hope that it may bring you much joy, great health and success.

What 2013 predictions do you have? Please share in the comments.