Personal Finance Ideas
There was a news story on MSNBC back in December titled 20 Personal Finance Do’s And Dont’s For 2009. It was a pretty good story, and though I’m not going to quote it, I am going to list the 20, and have my own commentary on each of them. I recommend you go to the story to see what they had to say for each of them.
1. Don’t try to predict the future.
This one is a no-brainer, and yet it’s not how most of us live. If we didn’t, would there even be a stock market to begin with?
2. Do keep enough cash available.
I like this one also, but even if you have saved six months worth, it won’t be easy. That’s always been the standard for protecting oneself, but in this economy, that might not be enough.
3. Do invest internationally.
I’m thinking that this isn’t looking all that good, as it seems the foreign markets go as our market goes, and ours isn’t going well at all.
4. Don’t try to pick one winning investment. Diversify.
This one is brilliant, although, if you’re in more control of your investments, looking at certain industries over other industries may be the way to go. Remember, right now, health care product makers seem to be weathering the storm just fine.
5. Do think about energy efficiency.
This should be the case at all times. Turn off lights when you can, don’t keep the heat on too high, look for leaks,… it all can add up.
6. Don’t stop contributing to 401(k) and other retirement accounts.
Man, this one is tough to do, but they’re right. The market won’t be down forever, and when it starts to recover, the more shares you have the quicker you’ll recover.
7. Do live below your means. Save.
This is sound advice, but at the same time, economists are saying one of the problems the economy is having in recovering is that no one is spending. So, live below your means, but save enough to pamper yourself every once in awhile.
8. Don’t make sudden moves.
Another piece of key advice. If you have less than $250,000 in the bank, your money is guaranteed by the federal government, so don’t panic. If your stocks have lost a lot and you’re young enough to weather the storm, leave it there. I’ve lost more than 50% of the value of my portfolio, but I’m hoping I’m still young enough to recover and grow.
9. Do pay off expensive debts.
Debt always costs you more than earning money does. If you’ve got debt that’s costing you more than 15%, try to whittle down the most expensive stuff first. This is sound budgeting advice also.
10. Don’t give up on stocks.
As I said above, this one is tough, but if you can afford it, ride out this storm.
11. Do track your spending.
Once again, always good budgeting advice. I do it to a degree, but I’ll admit that I’m not worried about tracking money when there’s an ice cream sundae calling my name.
12. Don’t pay high management fees.
In today’s economy, this is sound advice. It was always probably sound advice, especially since there are so many people out there looking for your business at affordable rates.
13. Do review your credit reports.
As some of you know, I belong to Free Credit Report.com, which tracks all 3 credit reporting agencies if you choose to pay for it after getting your free report. You’ve seen the commercials; this stuff is for real.
14. Don’t follow the herd.
One should always follow their own hunches and do the research for themselves before acting on something, especially as it concerns your finances.
15. Do write down an investing plan and budget, and stick to them.
If it’s not written, it’s not real. Judge Judy said that about contracts, but it applies to everything in one’s life.
16. Don’t forgo necessary insurance.
I wrote about health insurance, but it’s important to have other insurance for your family’s protection. Pay for what you can afford.
17. Do check out your financial adviser.
How many people are wishing they’d known more about Bernard Madoff now? Of course, the problem with him is that so many people recommended him without knowing, but his numbers also looked way too good; that should have set off someone’s Spidey senses.
18. Don’t invest in anything you don’t understand.
Once again, this is a tough one because most people really don’t understand investing all that much. That’s why we hire people to take care of us, and hopefully we trust them with our money. Still, learn something about money markets and how they work, and occasionally open up that statement that comes from your broker to at least see if your investments are going in the right direction.
19. Do make sure safe investments are actually safe.
Once again, in an economy like ours right now, what’s considered safe? Do the best you can, and if you need to, talk to your financial adviser about your concerns.
20. Don’t take more risk than you can handle.
Once again, very sound advice. Don’t jump on something you’re told will make you a lot of money without investigating it first, but even at that moment, don’t hurt yourself.
Okay, that’s all I have to say; what say you?