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How to recession-proof your finances right now

·5 min read
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080622-recession-proof-finances_hero_43_1280x960_v20220804122507

As the economy continues along an uncertain path, it’s not too late to take action to protect your finances.

Some economists and investors argue that the U.S. is already in recession. While Canada isn’t there yet, most (59 per cent) Canadians feel like we are. With the cost of living on the rise, you might be looking for ways to make your hard-earned dollars go further.

With a bit of planning and some smart spending, you can help protect yourself from the effects of a recession.

Spend less

This speaks for itself.

Create a budget and include everything that you spend money on. Whether it’s hydro bills, transit costs, streaming subscriptions or coffee money, include everything you can.

Once you’ve accounted for where your money goes, see what you can trim off. If you frequently buy your lunch, it would be prudent to start making it at home. Instead of paying for the premium subscription to a streaming service, you might find you can make do with a lower-tiered account, or cancel your subscription altogether.

Work more

You may feel stressed about how little spare time you have, but if you can, working more to make some extra money can help you along.

Of course there is the option to find part-time work in fields such as retail or customer service. However, if you have a skill that can be used remotely, try to take advantage of it. You can then maximize your time while also avoiding the commuting costs of an in-person role. Having a freelance remote role also gives you the freedom to make a schedule that works around whatever other job or responsibilities you have.

For instance, if you work in human resources, hire yourself out as a part-time résumé consultant.

If you’re presently employed, and are worried about your job security, take time to update your résumé and start to put the feelers out for other employment. If you suddenly find yourself without a job because of an economic downturn, you will hopefully be further along on the path to finding another position.

Emergency fund

Emergency funds are savings that are readily available to you, but intended to only be used when absolutely necessary. Whether it’s to pay for unexpected medical expenses or house repairs, setting aside money to help with these costs is invaluable.

The standard recommendation is to have three to six months of salary set aside in an emergency fund. While this amount might seem overwhelming, if you slowly contribute to your fund you’ll find that amassing the money isn’t impossible.

If you haven’t started an emergency fund, there’s no better time than now. Opening up a secondary bank account solely for this purpose is helpful, as you can separate your daily operating funds from those for worst case scenarios.

Try to set aside 10 per cent of every paycheque for the emergency account. This may mean having to sacrifice some frivolous expenses like takeout meals, but eliminating those is a good idea to help recession proof your finances anyway.

If 10 per cent is too ambitious, $10 is good as well. Every bit you can save helps, and you can always contribute more to your emergency fund when you can.

To make setting aside the money easier, consider automating the transfer to the savings account. Ideally, you can use a high-interest savings account that will allow you to build on your investment faster than a standard savings account. Doing this will allow you to save the money without having to think about it.

Invest

A general rule of investing is to set aside 10 per cent of your pre-tax income.

Watching the value of investments dip can be concerning, but if you’re playing the long game, now’s a great time to invest. Keep in mind the old adage of “buy low, sell high” — when markets are down it’s time to contribute to your portfolio.

Money can be tight, but if you’ve worked out a proper budget and trimmed fat away from your expenses, you’ll be able to scrape together some cash to invest.

In fact, making investments a line in your budget is invaluable, as it creates discipline and ensures you are taking future savings into account.

The market will find its footing, and a diverse portfolio will prove profitable in the long run. When the market swings upward you’ll be confident that investing your money in the downturn was the right move.

No new debts

If you’re worried about the impact a recession could have on you, now’s not the time to go out and buy that new car. Taking on new debts adds stress to your savings, and can be financially crippling if you suddenly find yourself unemployed or having to pay higher interest rates.

If you have any high-interest debts, like credit cards, pay these off as soon as possible. You can also consolidate these debts with others at lower interest rates, allowing you to pay more money toward the principal instead of the interest.

The possibility of a recession can be scary, but weathering the storm doesn’t have to be. With some good planning and smart savings, you can ensure that you’re prepared for a worst case scenario.

This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.

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