This article was originally printed in a USAA Magazine and was written by Scott Halliwell, CFP, in the Spring 2011 Issue.  As a USAA Member, I get this magazine as part of my membership.  I like this article and thought you would enjoy it.  It’s simple and a great reminder that based on the current economy, we need to take control of our economic future within our households!

Ready to take control of your economic future?

Scott Halliwell is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner with USAA and an
advisor on debt reduction, investing and saving for retirement.  Here are some of his tips.

  1. Focus on the basics. There was a lot of press coverage in 2010
    about Americans going back to basics by paying off debt and increasing
    savings.  I personally think this strategy is great for 2011 as well.  Even
    if your personal situation begins to look more stable this year, keep up the
    frugality.
  2. Expect the unexpected. Prepare for a
    possible job loss by tightening up your budget now.  Then start directing any excess money into a
    large cash reserve.  I always recommend maintaining cash reserves equal to three to six months of committed expenses—even when jobs are stable.
  3. Don’t sink further into debt. If you were
    one of the unfortunate millions of people to lose your job during the
    recession, don’t keep living like you didn’t.
    I know cutting back hurts, but running up debt to sustain a lifestyle
    you can no longer afford will only make things worse.
  4. Reconsider homeownership. Over the short term,
    homeownership may not be all that it was once cracked up to be.  With experts predicting home prices will fall
    further in 2011 or, at best, stay flat for the foreseeable future, it really is
    worth it to second-guess the home-buying decision.
  5. Can’t sell your home? Consider adding two
    new titles to your life:  landlord and
    renter.  This approach can allow you to
    postpone selling until the market recovers in your area.
  6. Keep cash safe. The deterioration of interest rates on safe
    places for cash—savings accounts, money markets and CDs—has led many savers to
    invest in riskier options.  For cash
    reserve funds, this is usually a very bad idea.
    Remember, these aren’t your “get rich” funds; they’re your “stay rich”
    funds.  Avoid the temptation to get
    greedy and put them in harm’s way.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. owns the certification marks CFP® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ in the
U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the individuals and do not reflect the opinions of USAA and
its affiliates.

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