Financial Advice You Should Ignore Right Now
There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the world right now. That makes it hard to plan not only for tomorrow, but certainly for five or ten years down the road. With job insecurity always within sight, it makes sense to try to tighten up finances and double-down on budgets and such. After all, if there was ever a time to play by the rules – this is it, right?
The truth is it depends. If you’re battling financial uncertainty, it may not be the time to try to reinvent yourself financially. In fact, there are some pretty common pieces of financial advice you can ignore completely right now.
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Paying down debt as quickly as you can
Everyone likes the idea of being debt-free, but is this really the time to be sending all your money away? If you’re in a period of financial instability, paying down debt really just needs to move to the back burner for a bit. Keep your cash close by and build up a bit of cash nest egg if you can. That extra money may help to pay the rent or keep your car going if you wind up without a pay check for a month or two. It can’t be there for emergencies if you sent it off as an extra payment to pay off old debt.
Of course, you shouldn’t ignore debt forever. Once you have a more secured income and stability has returned to your financial future, you should absolutely go back after that debt more aggressively.
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Saving every month
If you’ve heard the adage to “pay yourself first”, meaning sending 10-20% of your income into a savings account, you may feel guilty for not being able to do that right now. That bit of wisdom assumes that you have a job and therefore plenty of cash to send over to savings. It advocates savings money before spending on frivolous or fun things.
If you have lost your job or you’re furloughed or at risk of losing your job, you’re not currently choosing between a healthy bank account and a healthy sense of fun and adventure. They money you’re bringing in is needed for bills and financial safety. Paying yourself first now means paying your bills first and keeping yourself afloat while you ride out the uncertainty.
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Planning well into the future
In a time of uncertainty, it’s easy to worry about what the future holds. But now isn’t the time to become paralyzed by the uncertainty of what is to come. Right now, you just need to take care of right now.
Pause on saving for long term goals. Hold off on sending large amounts away to cover future goals and plans. Instead, focus on what you need right now and be sure that your needs of today are covered. Once you’ve moved past a period of uncertainty, you can recalibrate and start working more aggressively toward your future plans.
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Pay every bill on time every time
It’s a hard truth, but sometimes you don’t have enough money to pay every bill. But you know you are supposed to pay every bill on time to maintain a good FICO score and keep your credit in good standing. The truth of the matter is that some bills are more important than others. It’s also a truth that bad credit can be repaired.
If you are stressed and worried about prioritizing your living expenses like mortgage, fuel, groceries and utilities above credit card payments, don’t be. Family safety comes before credit score. Before you start skipping payments, however, look into forbearance on certain loans and consider speaking with credit card companies to lower APR or reduce minimum payments while you work to get on your feet. If you can afford to keep making minimum payments, even as you use your credit cards to help bridge the financial gap, do it. Keeping up with minimum payments will go a long way to healing your credit. But if you can’t afford even the minimum payments, focus on safety first.
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Make your own way
You may have heard that moving back home or asking your parents for money is a sign of failure. If you can’t make it on your own, then you simply can’t make it. But that’s not the reality many of us are facing now. If you have been the victim of an economy in hardship, moving back in with your family or asking for a bit of help isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of a strong family offering support where they can.
Maintaining a household is expensive. If you have the option to combine households, even for a bit, you can save a lot of money, spend more time bonding with family, and perhaps offering help and assistance to older family member who might need a hand with projects and maintenance around the house.
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What to know about paying off debt and getting your finances back on track