There has been a lot of recent news about the coronavirus and related uncertainty which has contributed to volatility in the stock market. We recognize this is an unprecedented time for everyone – a time that for many, is filled with uncertainty, I want to remind you that you are not alone. And while I may not have the answers, I hope to provide some guidance on things you can do with your money during this time.
First, I want to say to everyone, be safe and stay healthy and do your part to help keep this from getting worse. Check out online resources from the CDC on guidance about the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
It’s often said that markets hate uncertainty. And there is a lot of uncertainty right now.
The oil uncertainty between Saudi Arabia and Russia combined with the coronavirus uncertainty, resulted in the stock market being hit with the “one, two punch” that Warren Buffet described in his recent interview on March 11, 2020.
The S&P 500, which is an index of companies that’s often seen as a mirror for the overall markets (along with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq), was down over 8% in the last 5 trading days (March 9-13, 2020) and down over 16% YTD (as of March 13, 2020 closing price). *Source- https://www.marketwatch.com/investing/index/spx
Since we don’t know how all of this will all play out, markets may remain volatile for some time until we have news of progress.
President Trump announced Wednesday at a press conference that he is working on a financial relief program that may include a form of relief for anyone that has a loss in income due to being sick with the coronavirus or taking care of a loved one who has the virus. On Friday, he announced that they will suspend interest charges on Federal Student Loans for the foreseeable future. And on Sunday afternoon, President Trump congratulated the Federal Reserve for its slashing rates to nearly zero. Lowering interest rates is supposed to help move the economy in the right direction by making it cheaper for households and businesses to borrow money, which they will hopefully use to buy houses, cars and invest in new plants and equipment.
So what does this all mean for you?
I think with all of this, there are 10 Important Things You Can Do Right Now with Your Money:
1. Don’t panic
Easier said than done, but during volatile times, it is important to remain calm and centered and not react from a place of fear. It is wise to express any emotions you may have about what is going on with a trusted family member, friend or licensed therapist and use your network of professionals to help guide you during this time. Take advantage of this time to start meditating or doing other activities to keep you centered and calm.
2. Have a plan
You always need a solid budget and financial plan and in times like these you can then be more present and clear with what is happening. Most people who have a solid budget and financial plan that they’ve set up in Mint or have been working on with a financial planner, will find that they don’t need to react much to the unforeseen circumstances and hopefully have been getting prepared for a market downturn.
3. Review your plan with your financial planner
You should review your plan often but especially during times like this, you can review again to ensure you are doing everything proper with your money. If you don’t have a financial planner, now is the time to get one. Check out www.cfpboard.net for a planner who fits your needs.
4. Review your budget and cut out any unnecessary expenses
You can log into your Mint App and do a deep dive into all your monthly expenses to see if there are any you can cut out. Perhaps memberships or subscriptions you no longer use? With any freed up cash you create by eliminating or reducing expenses, you can decide what financial goal you want to save that for. Mint has a great feature to help you create financial goals and set up automatic savings toward them so you see the progress you’re looking for to reach those financial goals you have.
5. Consider refinancing debt into lower interest rates
The Federal Reserve has lowered interest rates and also increased the amount of short-term loans it offers banks to keep cash flowing smoothly. This could affect interest rates on credit cards or other personal debts but make sure to talk to a professional as it does not always make sense to refinance debt nor does this mean that mortgage rates will necessarily go down. Do your research and make sure you understand your options carefully.
6. Don’t invest short term money into long term investments
This is a given but even more critical during this time. You should always have your short term goals like Cash Cushion, Home Down Payment, and Travel in high yield savings accounts and not invested in the stock market. The reason is because you never want to take money from your investment accounts when they may be down (for example- current scenario) to cover your short term money needs.
7. Keep the Long term in mind with long term investments
This is also a given but keep in mind that you should only invest your money in the stock market for the longer term, as you have time on your side to recover from this and whatever comes in the future.
8. Stockpile cash
Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, is sitting on $128 billion in cash for a reason. And his famous quote for investors is to be greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy. Having more cash during this time can help you with any potentially reduced income.
9. Look for opportunities
Are there ways you can make more money right now? Use this time to use your unique skill set and create an online course or create and sell other products or services that provide value to others. Because most are left with more time on their hands, choose to use it wisely.
10. Educate yourself on money management and investing principles
Continue reading blogs like this to educate yourself on smart money management strategies and investing principles. Mint has a lot of valuable money content that can help you at any stage of life. Now could be the perfect time to kick your financial literacy into high gear.
Hope this blog provided you some helpful insight to help you during this time.
Be safe and most important of all, stay healthy.