Lehman Brothers’ and Merrill Lynch’s employees and investors are having a bad, bad day. But if you’re not one of them, how do the failures of these Wall Street giants affect your wallet today? Hopefully, you won’t even notice it.
Your investments: The average twenty something has less than $15,000 in retirement investments, if any at all. While your 401(k) balance may be ugly for a while, you can be assured that even if the grim economic situation continues, you have a long, long time to earn returns. In fact, a sliding market is all the more reason to invest more funds now to take advantage of deflated stock prices.
Your bank accounts: As long as you don’t have more than $100,000 in checking, savings, or other FDIC-insured accounts at any one bank, your money is safe. In the event your bank goes under, the U.S. Treasury will recover your money for you.
Your debt: A declining economy triggers the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates. Although rate cuts can bring about inflation (meaning long-term price increases for everybody), they provide temporary relief in the form of lower interest rates on variable-rate credit cards, mortgages and personal loans. If you have a fixed rate, you can still take advantage of new lower rates by transferring your balance or refinancing your mortgage or auto loan.
Your spending: The principle of smart spending is the same in economies good and bad: Spend less than you earn and save or invest the rest. Unless you have specific concerns about your personal job stability, there’s no reason to spend any less than you normally do, as long as you stick to a budget!
Your career: Anybody working in the financial world may want to be extra diligent at work these days, as it may be difficult to find a new financial job anytime soon. The rest of us should be in good shape, as long we continue to show value to our employers. Studies continue to show a retiring workforce and the low cost of employing entry-level workers is creating plentiful job opportunities for recent college graduates, especially in healthcare, engineering, and education.
Did today’s news—or other recent economic hiccups—directly impact your financial life? How have you coped?