It’s been more than 18 months since we first heard the utterance of the “R” word, recession. The funny thing about economic data is bad news travels much more quickly than good news. While we all heard about the economy’s struggles, many have no idea that we are technically out of a recession.
While the technical data points to some positive signs and the economy actually grew, the pulse of individuals still remains fearful. Economic gloom and doom doesn’t have a mortal enemy that clearly pronounces the proverbial all-clear. While the media loves to provide data illuminating every wrinkle in our economic system, good news remains sparse at best.
Are we still in a recession? Either way, what does it really matter? From a personal financial standpoint, it really doesn’t matter. Our habits and financial wherewithal should always remain diligent. I live in Nashville, the city that experienced an enormous flood that some experts claim to be a 500 or maybe a 1000 year flood. Does it matter to those flood victims if we are or aren’t in a recession? Of course not, but what does matter is sound financial planning and decisions.
Sound financial decisions transcend good and bad economic data or even disasters. The stock market is out of our control, and the ups and downs associated with our economy are beyond the reach of our hands. Focusing on something that is out of our control is not productive.
If we can’t control the market or the economy, what can we control?
The items listed below will allow you to focus on the things you can control, while participating in financial growth, buffering against economic downturns, and all while providing support during emergencies.
Have sufficient cash liquidity.
Liquidity is the keystone of the financial foundation. Emergency funds (cash) can provide liquidity to those in need during emergencies, large or small. This cash can prevent folks from going into debt for purchases that are necessary to return life to normal.
Live within your means.
Spend less than you make….save 10% of your income. These old adages will ensure that some money is set aside for tomorrow.
Dollar cost average.
Continue to be a buyer during economic downturns. Buying at regular intervals (such as into a 401k plan) will help buffer the ups and downs of the market.
Proactively manage your tax liability.
Proper tax and strategic planning can help reduce the single largest recurring expense that most Americans face.
Invest for the long term.
Don’t try to time the market. Timing the market most often results in disappointment. By focusing on the long term, the short term ups and downs become blips on the radar screen.
What we do behaviorally (controlling the things we can control) is much more important that what the market is doing or how the economy is holding up. So whether we are in a recession or not, the 5 tips above are simple to implement, yet extremely effective.