The following post is by MPFJ staff writer, Laurie Blank. Laurie is a wife, mother to 4 and homesteader who blogs about personal finance, self-sufficiency and life in general over at The Frugal Farmer. Part witty, part introspective and part silly, her goal in blogging is to help others find their way to financial freedom and to a simpler, more peaceful life.
According to recent reports, the economy is in a state of thriving optimism. Check out this recent news article snippet:
“Upbeat economic data continue to emerge from the U.S. economy despite the turbulent political atmosphere. Leading indicators suggest that activity is firming in the first quarter of 2017 after GDP growth slipped in the final quarter of last year. The ISM manufacturing index rose to an over-two-year high in January, retail sales grew healthy and employers added jobs at the quickest pace in four months.” (Source: http://www.focus-economics.com/countries/united-states)
After many years of digging out of trouble since the 2007-2008 housing bust, things might actually be starting to seriously improve for America’s citizens, at least from a financial standpoint. So what can you do to take advantage of a good economy and use the opportunity to improve your personal financial situation? Consider these options.
Assess Your Financial Situation
How have the last nine or ten years affected your finances? Have you gotten into debt? Depleted your savings? Ignored your retirement accounts as you work to be able to pay the bills? Make an assessment of your current financial situation and set some goals for where you want to be financially. Then make a plan for how you’ll get there and start moving forward with your plan today.
Make More Money
Jobs are being added at a quick pace, which means you have more opportunities to increase your income. Consider taking on a second job if necessary or getting overtime hours at work if they are available in order to help you reach your financial goals. Take advantage of the chance to increase your income while things are good and business owners and consumers are in a spending mood.
Don’t Get Too Comfortable With the Boom
In the years prior to the Great Depression, Americans had a “What could possibly go wrong?” attitude about their money. The stock market was thriving and the Roaring Twenties had people buying houses on credit, cars on credit and living a life of financial reckless abandon.
When the crash hit, many people lost everything and the foreclosure rate skyrocketed to over twenty-five percent.
History shows that every boom is followed by a bust – eventually. In a thriving economy that bust may come years down the line, or it may come in an instant due to a terrorist attack or other major widespread issue like a major drought that causes an increase in food prices.
In order to protect yourself and your finances, stay reserved about the immediate economic success and continue to plan for future economies as opposed to simply taking comfort in the current good one.
Beware of Potentially Rising Interest Rates
We’ve lived with super low interest rates for the last several years as the government worked to make it possible for people to keep spending in spite of the housing bust and its after effects. Now that things are looking up we can expect rising interest rates which will affect mortgage loan rates and credit card rates as well, so borrow carefully.
A good economy is a great thing, but it’s also a great time to keep in mind that economic booms don’t last forever and to prepare to be financially stable no matter what the economy may be doing. Ditch your debt, increase your savings and work your way to a healthier financial situation while the getting is good.
How about you all? What steps are you taking to improve your current financial situation?
Share your experiences by commenting below!
***Photo courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/koalazymonkey/3596829214/in/