While the economy has already certainly softened, there may be further economic contraction for American consumers to face. Increasing job losses, higher inflation rates, and the growing food and energy costs are making personal finance budgeting difficult for most American families to achieve. The variable interest rate of recent mortgages makes critical, and the prospects for personal finance do not look bright for the next several years.
However, an ounce of personal finance planning is certainly worth more than a pound of monetary cure. It is not too late to start preparing your personal finance budgeting efforts to brace yourself for further economic contraction – ensuring that when America does recover from its economic weakness, your personal finance will be intact and still healthy.
Debt management strategy: watch your interest rates
When economic uncertainty is on the horizon, interest rates are the first to react – making debt management critical. Powered by both the Federal Reserve rate and each banking institution’s tolerance, interest rates can either soar or plummet, depending upon several factors.
Whereas our interest rates were at historical lows, the Fed Chairman Bernanke made adjustments to the rate in order to curb inflation, while attempting to simultaneously stimulate economic investment. What does this mean for your debt management? In essence, banks will now offer you great interest rates if you have good credit, making your debt management easy. If you have bad credit, then banks will increase your interest rates, as the risk of a default grows greater during an economic contraction.
Therefore, for debt management that will prepare for further economic contraction, you want to lock in low interest rates, which will be easy for those who already have good credit. You can refinance your credit cards by consolidating your debts, or you can even renegotiate your interest rates with your existing credit card company.
For those who have less than stellar credit, you want to carefully watch your mortgages, loans, and credit cards to ensure that they are not raising your interest rates. You may be particular susceptible to interest rate hikes in further economic contraction.
Smart personal finance budgeting
Keep in mind that regardless of how much income you earn, the key to maintaining financial stability is through intelligent debt management and personal finance budgeting. Even if you earn millions, your spending habits and debt are what determine your financial stability. In preparing for a further economic contraction, it is important that you take several personal finance budgeting steps:
o Tally all of your required expenses including your mortgage or rent payment, car payment, health insurance, and utilities. There are the bills you must pay each month, and therefore, are part of your mandatory personal finance budgeting process.
o Allocate a set amount each month for groceries. Keep in mind that you should try to purchase everything “on sale” for smart personal finance budgeting. Research shows that simply by purchasing the brand that is on sale, you can save approximately 20% each time you go to the supermarket.
o Minimize your entertainment expenses. Smart personal finance budgeting means limiting how frequently you eat out, or spend money on entertainment. For example, if you have a four-person family and you typically watch a movie at the theater each week, cutting this expense out could save up nearly $200 each month. Or, brown bag your lunch instead of eating at the local sandwich shop. This small change in your personal finance budgeting can save you conservatively $150 per month. Just these two small changes alone in your entertainment expenses can give you an extra $350 per month for your personal finance budgeting.
o Set money aside for your savings. In a further economic contraction, the greatest, yet most probably fear, is losing your job. Therefore, by taking conservative approaches with your personal finance budgeting now, you can still set aside emergency funds that will help your family if times are difficult. Saving 10% of your income each month is a healthy, yet reasonable, amount to save in your personal finance budgeting.
The key to protecting your personal finance against any additional economic contraction is through smart debt management and intelligent personal finance budgeting. By taking several preventative measures now, you can ensure that your financial situation will remain healthy – regardless of what happens to the economy.