So not to scare you.. ok, maybe to scare you a little bit, every time the Republican’s have had a Super Majority in American Government (House, Senate & Presidency) they have crashed the Economy. So far in history that’s 3 for 3 or 100% of the time! In 1907/1908 during the Banking Panics; 1928 when the GOP gained power, the Stock Market Crashed in October 1930 and created the Great Depression from 1929-1937; and finally the 2007/2008 credit crisis crash that lead to thousands losing their jobs and homes. Honestly, there a lot of CPA’s out there keeping it neutral, but I’m thinking I’d rather go out on limb, be proactive to help people rather than reactive giving advice after the fact. We could be headed for a fourth time in the next 2 years, some of the signs are already there (discussions about eliminating Dodd-Frank, reducing Banking Regulations, Trade rhetoric and fair pay/minimum wage) are just a few of the issues that cause alarms to go off for me.
Now I hope I’m reading the signs wrong, but I was correct about the housing crash and the indicators I saw then. So, here’s my suggestions and you can take them for what they are worth, or not, it’s up to you.
1st, resist buying things you don’t need and pay off as much of your Credit Card debt as you can NOW! Currently your rates are protected by the Frank-Dodd Act which the GOP has whole-heartedly set out to dismantle which means we could be going back to the days of 29.99% credit card interest (that was just 8 short years ago btw).
2nd, Refinance you home if you don’t already have a low FIXED interest rate. Once you are locked in, unless you’ll need to refi for medical or other emergency reasons, you should be ok with your Mortgage with what could be another housing fiasco (again due to the Wall Street Lobbyists on the new Administration). If you have an ARM (Adjustable Rate Mortgage) refinance out of it into a Fixed Rate as soon as possible. This will stabilize your cash flow and hold your payments steady in the event interest rates climb. And if you are planning or buying a new home, shop for that best rate – and don’t take out more than 80% of the value of your home on the Mortgage and always find a FIXED RATE so that you can count on a steady repayment amount. Otherwise, sit tight and enjoy your current home.
3rd, Don’t SPLURGE on spending, but don’t stop spending altogether either. Remember the economy is only sustainable if/when there is demand from consumers for products. Without demand, supplies increases, prices drop and layoffs happen which leads to less disposable income in the economy which will begin to spiral the economy into a downward spin. This is one of the things that happened in the early 2000’s – Sunbeam comes to mind.
4th, BUY LOCAL WHENEVER POSSIBLE! One of the things that will help support our communities is to keep as much in the local economy as possible… Use SMALL LOCAL Credit Unions or Community Banks vs Large Corporate Banks (remember these guys are the ones who got drunk on Wall Street and taxpayers ended up needing to bail out). Buy American if you can’t buy local. Obviously we don’t have Car Manufacturers in all our neighborhoods but we can support other local communities by sticking to American Made goods. This not only helps American Manufacturing plants but also helps the downstream suppliers and local businesses that depend on that plants employees.
5th, be cautious of Phantom Profits in the Stock Market. Phantom Profits are essentially Speculative gains on the value of the Stocks and are not based on REAL earnings of an entity. This was one of the things that happened during the Banking/Credit Crisis of 2007 where approximately 30% of some stock’s value was phantom earnings. When the Market corrected, thousands lost their life savings. Stick with a LONG-TERM strategy – there is no getting rich quick, but you can certainly gamble it all away overnight on something that’s not consistent and not a sound, tested long standing company.
Finally… if you have a good job with good benefits… consider whether or not now is a good time to change. Granted sometimes you can’t help it, but by keeping your life constant through the next couple years, you will have a better chance of getting through possible crises unscathed.