During times of uncertainty, people often become anxious about their personal finances. They may worry about a sudden drop in the value of their investments or about their ability to pay their bills and maintain a good credit history. During times of uncertainty, you may develop a lot of anxiety and the feeling that there is no end in sight, which can make it difficult for people to prepare financially. Individuals may feel like there is no value in setting goals when so much remains up in the air. During such times, people need to focus on staying calm and approaching their finances logically rather than panicking and doing things that they might regret in the future. Here are some personal finance tips to keep in mind during uncertain times:
1. Take stock of the situation.
While much can remain unknown during times of uncertainty, people often feel better when they take stock of their current situation. Knowledge is power, and conducting a quick inventory can help people to feel more centered, not to mention more prepared to make decisions. People should look at their accounts and calculate their net worth to determine where they stand. Sometimes, doing so can help people to realize that they are not as bad off as they initially thought they were. Other times, they may realize that they are perhaps in a more dire situation than they thought. In any case, knowing for sure is better than crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.
2. Review your monthly financial obligations.
People often want to trim the fat from their budget when the markets become uncertain. The impulse to save money is an important one that can create a cushion for people in the months to come. When trying to figure out how they can reduce their expenses, individuals should review all of their monthly expenses to figure out what is essential and what can be cut out. If people believe that they cannot make ends meet under current conditions, a monthly review is also the place to start. By conducting a review, individuals can get rid of unnecessary bills while developing a strategy for how to reduce the essential ones. Credit card companies, landlords, and utility firms often offer respite deals to help people cope during difficult times. If the companies do not offer deals, you can always call and ask if a deal can be made.
3. Take advantage of free offers.
When the entire country is facing an uncertain time and everyone has a lot of financial anxiety, companies will often step up to provide free services. Taking advantage of these services can help people to maintain their sanity while keeping their monthly expenditures as low as possible. Today, many companies are providing free online services, ranging from classes and workshops to yoga and workouts. When people take the time to do things that matter to them, they feel more centered and able to tackle serious issues.
4. Avoid checking your accounts all the time.
Many individuals feel the need to check their 401(k), 403(b), IRA, or other accounts daily, if not more often. The problem with doing so during times of uncertainty is that the resulting losses are temporary. When the market recovers, the investments will return to their previous values. By reviewing their accounts frequently, people could make brash decisions and start to panic. Selling off investments now locks in the loss, as there is not time to wait for recovery. The difference between the previous market high and the current value results in a permanent loss. During times of uncertainty, it is critically important for people to maintain a long-term perspective, particularly if they do not plan to retire in the near future.
5. Keep track of your credit.
People often work very hard to build good credit, and times of uncertainty should not cause all of that effort to go to waste. In an uncertain market, individuals need to begin following their credit more closely, as fraud often increases during such times. Obtaining a free credit report on a periodic basis is a great way to ensure that there is no fraudulent activity that could impact your credit. Also, as discussed above, it is important to reach out to creditors and explore options when cash flow gets tight. Creditors will often allow people to forego payments or pay less for a certain period of time without a penalty provided that they make the arrangements. This step is critical for maintaining good credit.
6. Save money wherever possible.
While the ability tocontribute to a savings account may seem impossible during times of uncertainty, every little bit that you put away can help. Even people who still have a source of income should recognize that anything could happen, and they should beef up their emergency fund to help carry them through any future difficulties. People who are already struggling to make ends meet can often cut corners when it comes to food and other activities, particularly when they take advantage of free offers from various companies to keep money in their accounts and maintain some sort of financial cushion. Perhaps most important of all is to build your savings in earnest when the market recovers. Many people will wish that they had saved more once they reach a rough patch, and they should not forget this lesson once their cash flow is restored.