Times have been tough for the U.S. economy over the last few years, and the debt ceiling issue has not made things any easier. However, there are ways to help make sure that you don’t end up on the rocks in the financial storm.
Here is some sound advice to help you stay the course:
1. Have an Emergency Fund
As many have discovered through the turmoil of the last several years, steady employment can quite suddenly disappear. For such eventualities it is wise to have – and regularly pay into – an emergency account that isn’t touched unless absolutely needed. In the current financial climate, most experts recommend such a fund be able to support the primary earner or earners, along with dependents for up t0 6 months. This may take a while, as work towards that goal… I suggest you start with $1,000 right away.
2. Know Your Finances
If you aren’t sure, or only have a vague idea where your money is being kept and where it is invested, you should immediately find out. Know what bank accounts hold your funds, and what they are earning. If you have a pension, know where it is, how often it is supposed to pay and the state of the company hosting the pension. Know where you money is invested, and keep good tabs on how those investments are performing. In short, know your finances.
In addition to knowing the whereabouts of your finances, get to “know” or understand your investments before investing. Consider, among other things, the risks inherent in investing prior to agreeing to invest.
3. Minimize Debt
Every time you purchase a product or service on credit, you are deepening your financial liability. When hard times strike, that liability can be overwhelming and can mean foreclosure, bankruptcy or worse.
“Don’t spend what you don’t have” is an age-old and very sound financial adage. Use cash for purchases whenever possible. The bank can’t foreclose or take away anything that you own outright.
A balanced portfolio is usually considered the most prudent strategy in investment. There are many ways to invest, from stocks to commodities, from hard assets to real estate. It is well worth a comprehensive dialogue with your investment counselor – and some good homework on your part – to do all you can to see that your portfolio is appropriately diversified and designed to fit your financial needs and goals. In times like these, perhaps a conservative, long-term investment that pays regular dividends should be part of your portfolio.
5. Have Adequate Insurance
As we all know, life can take unexpected turns. Part of weathering a financial storm is to take care that your assets – and these include you and your loved ones – are properly insured. Home and vehicle insurance are a given, but don’t forget life insurance, disability and long-term care in case they are ever needed.
Applying these five methods can help you find your way to a more secure financial future through almost anything the U.S. government or the economy does.
What tips would you add to this list?