Economic uncertainty is at an all-time high, with investors dumping stocks, workers being laid off, and local businesses closing their doors due to the coronavirus crisis. It has left many Americans wondering what they should do with their money right now. Here are some expert tips to weather this financial storm.
1. Look at your emergency fund
If you already have an emergency fund, you should aim to stockpile about three to eight months’ worth of living expenses — just what you need to live on, not your discretionary spending. If you don’t have emergency savings yet, try opening a high-yield savings account to get the most bang for your buck. Start small — even if you save $10 a week, it’s something.
2. For other investments, think about the long game
If you have retirement accounts like a 401(k), 403b, or an IRA, don’t touch them. If you’re still decades away from retirement, you will likely recoup those losses over time.
If you are regularly contributing to retirement but need to beef up your emergency fund, consider cutting back your contributions just enough to get your company match, if you have one, and save the rest in cash. Kimberly Palmer, NerdWallet’s personal finance expert, said to keep your investments if you can. “It’s not the time to make changes, unless it’s a last resort.”
3. Understand how much you owe and make a plan to pay it off
Add up all of your debts and make a plan to pay them off. If you have high-interest credit card debt, Palmer said to give your company a call. “Credit card companies are being more lenient and waiving interest,” Palmer explained.
If you can’t pay off old debt, do everything you can to stop accruing new debt. Go on a cash-only diet, if you can, to keep from getting into more debt. The good news is that with the Fed’s recent rate cut, your debt might be a little cheaper to pay off.