While the economic outlook is in flux, it’s never too late to prepare your finances so you can weather the storm. Here are 4 ways you can start recession-proofing your finances.
In This Article
1. Pay down debt
Using the next few months to pay down debt, specifically high-interest debt, can be crucial for your financial wellness. While you may not get down to zero, prioritizing what debt to pay off can help give you the breathing room you need in your budget.
Start by focusing on credit card debt. There are three options you have to help you pay down credit card debt:
- Tackle by highest interest (like the debt avalanche method)
- Pay off the lowest balance first, such as the debt snowball strategy
- Consolidate your debt with a balance transfer card, personal loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC)
Once you get a handle on your credit card debt, you can start paying down other loans that have higher interest rates, like an auto loan.
2. Build an emergency fund
As you pay down high-interest debt, it’s important to also start building up your savings so you’ll have cash available for emergencies.
For instance, if you’re able to consolidate your credit card debt, the monthly financial cushion in your budget could go toward your savings.
It’s important to make sure whatever you set aside doesn’t create more debt or financial stress. Start out small if you have to – every bit helps.
While most financial experts recommend that your emergency fund has enough to cover three to six months of income, the answer depends on your budget.
3. Live within your means
Managing your money, so you live within your means is easier said than done. Experts say that when you live within your means, you spend at most 30% of your income on things like clothes, groceries and entertainment.
This is where making a budget comes in handy. Start by cataloging every expense – rent, mortgage, car payment, groceries, entertainment – so you understand precisely where your money is going.
Take it further by tracking every dollar you spend weekly to identify where you can save. You may be surprised by what you discover when you break your budget down like this.
4. Keep your credit score in check
That’s why now is a good time to figure out where your credit score stands and clear up any blemishes on your credit report.
You’re legally entitled to one free credit report every 12 months from the three main credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can access your report by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.
If you need to dispute a problem on your report, here are the steps to take to correct any errors.
While it’s hard to predict what will happen over the next few months, it is possible to prepare financially for an economic recession. If you’re already struggling with debt, here are other options to save while on a tight budget.
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