Economic experts are warning that another recession appears to be headed our way. In a recent survey by the National Association for Business Economics, 38% of economists who were polled predicted that it would occur next year. A little over a third said they expect it the following year, in 2021.
Americans aren't completely helpless in the face of a recession -- particularly if they prepare for the possibility of it. That's always a wise move -- even without these dire predictions. No economic upturn lasts forever. We should never assume that our own personal good fortune or that of the entire nation will continue without some bumps in the road.
Let's look at a few things that experts recommend people do to minimize the impact of a recession on their personal financial picture.
Don't overload your 401(k) with your employer's stock. If your company suffers a downturn or goes under completely, not only could you lose your job, but you could be out a big chunk of your retirement savings. Diversify your plan. Many people who worked for Washington Mutual (WaMu) learned that lesson the hard way.
However, if you're entitled to other company benefits, use them while you have them. If your company offers reimbursement for additional education and training, for example, those things could come in handy if you need to look for another job. If you believe that layoffs could be impending, take advantage of your employer-sponsored health insurance plan while you have it. If you've been postponing a major medical or dental procedure, now may be the time to get it.
Take another look at your investments. Many people feel confident about getting into riskier investments, like stocks, when the economy and the markets are doing well. However, a more conservative portfolio can help you better weather a serious downturn.
Look closely at your budget. Are you spending money on things you really don't need? Consider where you can cut back. Look at your debt. If you're paying interest on your credit cards because you can't pay them off each month, look for lower-interest alternatives. Now is the time to focus on having some savings available or at least an emergency fund.
If your debt is overwhelming, things aren't going to improve if the country slides into recession. It's better to consider options like bankruptcy now rather than later. An experienced attorney can help you.