The last five years have had profound changes in the way Americans deal with money — much like they did during the Great Depression, only less widespread. People are in a panic about avoiding the effects of the next financial meltdown, and they’ve responded by doing everything from investing every cent in gold to shipping everything offshore, both extreme measures. Here’s what you need to do to give yourself the best chance of avoiding the effects of the next big financial collapse.
If You Want Something Done Right do it Yourself
Don’t trust a “financial expert” to handle your business. You are the only one responsible for your own retirement planning. Set aside money every month, and invest it in equity-indexed annuities or other vehicles that are guaranteed not to lose value. If you work for a company that still offers matching on 401(k), HSA, or other similar accounts, save the maximum that they will match to get the biggest total benefit you can negotiate. Track your own numbers with online money manager software, get informed, and make your own decisions.
Spend Less Money and Save More
Every dollar you don’t spend today is a dollar you can invest in your future. Skip the latté, can the cola, and make your own dinner. Yes, it’s more work on top of an already-overworked culture. Yes, you absolutely will thank yourself when you realize that you have a substantive addition to your SSI check after you retire. There’s also no one who understands your risk tolerance as well as you do.
There are experts available, though, if you feel unprepared for handling or saving your own money. Educate yourself through experts like Peter Briger, Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors of Fortress Investment Group, LLC.
Debt is the opposite of security. If a crisis strikes and you have to spend money on something unexpected, having debts that pile up when you don’t pay them exacerbates that crisis hugely. No one is saying that you shouldn’t have a credit card, but be sure to pay those cards off before the bill even gets to you.
Search for the Best Rates
The thing that boggles people’s minds about rates over time is that even a tiny difference like a quarter of a percent can make or lose you hundreds of thousands of dollars over a few decades. Investing in the best guaranteed rate available is an absolute necessity if you want to make it through the next financial meltdown unscathed — as is getting loans with the lowest fixed rate you can find.
In addition to ‘tithing’ into your investments with every paycheck, you should also be putting 5% or so of each paycheck into a simple savings account or other vehicle that has no withdrawal restrictions. Being able to get access to liquid cash is vital for surviving minor financial crises, even if it means getting a significantly reduced interest rate on that cash. Once you’ve got enough to replace your current car, you can start saving again.
Financial meltdowns hurt everyone, but they hurt the unprepared a heck of a lot worse than the ones who are ready. Don’t be unprepared if a crisis strikes.