Happy New Year!
In the financial world, I don’t know anyone who was not eager to kiss 2008 goodbye. It was a tumultuous year, one frequented by reactive behavior. Reacting to failure a la Lehman Brothers…reacting to fraud as per Bernie Madoff…I could go on about the economic ills of the year all day long, but I would much rather take a proactive approach to 2009.
As the Obama administration prepares to lead the United States, everyone wants to know how our new President is going to save the economy.
The excitement and anticipation of change might make it tempting to settle into the same old reactive stance. I urge you to reconsider!
I have high hopes for President-elect Obama. I sincerely believe he (and his administration) will do whatever possible to save the economy, but he can’t save any of us from ignorance. As such, here are some easy, proactive steps we can take toward an economic stimulus of the mind:
1. Get familiar with basic economics – We need to know what it means when the Dow goes up or interest rates go down. Each move impacts us. Learn how and be prepared to embrace (or brace for) the impact.
2. Keep an eye on your credit – Good credit = lower costs. Credit scoring agencies compile records, but it is your responsibility to protect the integrity of your records. Get your credit report, make sure it is accurate and dispute any errors.
3. Beware before you sign – Your word is your bond. Read the terms of any financial agreement before you sign on the dotted line. It is guaranteed to save you time (and financial penalties) associated with non-payment or backing out after the fact.
4. Buy a financial calculator – It is rare for me to push a product, but this is a must have for every household. Figure out your mortgage payment or how much house you can afford before you start looking.
These tips may not save you from the economic ills of the world, but at the very least you will be better equipped to handle their impact on your world.
So, while the reporters spend their time obsessing and speculating over the next stimulus package, stimulate your mind. Trust me- it will go a lot further than a $300 check.
Happy New Year!