Are you prepared if a recession hits?
Whether or not one is on the horizon, you should take some steps ahead of time to recession-proof your life.
“Now is the time to boost your emergency savings, pay down debt, and create breathing room in your monthly budget by identifying expenses that can be cut either now, or later in the event of a job loss, ” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at personal finance website Bankrate.com.
“But do not — do not — mess around with your retirement account based on the volatility of markets.”
Stocks have seesawed thanks, in part, to growing fears about a recession.
Warnings are coming from different directions. In the bond market, the 10-year Treasury bond broke below the 2-year rate. That’s called an inverted yield curve, and it is a phenomenon that often has been a reliable, yet early, indicator of economic recessions. Another possible indicator is being seen in the sudden pullback in spending by the wealthy.
Recession warnings are also coming from banks. Earlier this month, Morgan Stanley wrote in a note to clients that the risk of a global recession is “high and rising. ”
With that in mind, here are four tips to help you get prepared.
1. Focus on what you can control
Don’t panic. Breathe.
Take a hard look at your saving, spending and investments. However, the first step is looking at the money you have coming, like your employment income.
That means you should assess your job security. If a recession hits, you don’t want to start a job search along with a bunch of other people who’ve just been laid off. You should also get your resume together and start networking.
“In a recession employers are gun shy about hiring. They always prioritize referrals and this is even more true in recession times,” said career expert Caroline Ceniza-Levine.
“Therefore, nurture your network now more than ever. Stay in touch. Be helpful. If you get a lead, share it. If you can make an introduction, do it.”
You can also network at your current job by making sure that more than just your boss or group know your work.
“You need to be indispensable,” said Ceniza-Levine, co-founder of SixFigureStart.
2. Shore up your finances
The conventional rule of thumb of many financial experts is to have three to six months of living expenses in your emergency fund.
However, if there is an economic downturn and you are unemployed, you may be out of work for a year or more. After the Great Recession, the average length of unemployment nationally was 29 weeks, and for workers between the ages of 55 to 64, it was one year.
Yet, the reality is that 40% of Americans would struggle to come up with $400 for an unexpected expense, according to the Federal Reserve.
If you don’t have an emergency fund, start one. However, what you really need to do is put your savings strategy on overdrive.
Strive to build cash reserves to last six to 12 months.
“You want to make sure you have the cash you need so you don’t have to sell things at the worst possible time,” like after your stocks, mutual funds or 401(k) have already lost a lot of value, said Lassus, a member of the CNBC Digital Financial Advisor Council.
If necessary, consider tapping into savings you may normally steer clear of in order to get more cash in hand.
“Nobody wants to reduce their savings to retirement or their kids’ college savings, but sometimes redirecting those savings towards greater amounts of cash or liquidity can do wonders for helping you navigate volatile markets, as well as recessions,” said certified financial planner Douglas Boneparth, president of Bone Fide Wealth and a member of the CNBC Digital Financial Advisor Council.
You can also put funds into a high-yield online bank savings account, and consider opening a home equity line of credit.
DepositAccounts and Bankrate.com are good resources to look for the best rates on savings and money market accounts.
3. Get cautious with your spending
To help build up that savings, you’ll have to take a look at your spending and see what you can cut back on.
For some, that may mean eating out less or holding off planning a winter vacation. You may also want to consider delaying big purchases like a car or even a home.
You should also make a diligent effort to stop buying on credit unless you pay your balance in full every month. Instead, pay in cash or with a debit card.
In addition, pay down your credit card and other debt.
4. Protect your portfolio
While you can’t control the financial markets, you can control where you put your money.
Some financial advisors say now may be a good time to consider converting traditional pre-tax 401(k) or IRA money into a Roth IRA. Another option is just switching your future 401(k) contributions from a traditional 401(k) to a Roth 401(k), if your company offers one.
Money in Roth accounts grows tax-free. Therefore, having more money in a Roth IRA accounts gives you a great deal of flexibility in retirement since there are no required minimum distributions.
However, no matter what the economic condition, you should not have money invested in the markets if it is money that you will need in the next five years.
That should be the case whether the market is soaring or we are in a recession.
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