According to George Will, we're not in a recession. Or at least we won't be for another eight weeks. In his Sunday column he points out, "The 9.9% first-quarter decline of the Standard & Poor 500 barely ranks among the 40 worst quarterly losses in the index's history." So, chill everybody.
As the financial world -- including housing, credit, energy and lattes -- tosses and turns, there's really nothing you can do. However, you can make a few moves to ensure a little security in coming years. AOL's latest Top Five! covers smart money moves you can make right now. As in, now.
Before we begin, just remember one thing: This won't be fun. Whenever these what-to-do-with-your-money lists come up, you always hope to see something that justifies your latest whim; like, "buy a new snowboard" or "splurge on an inflatable hot tub." But, no. That never happens. So, brace yourself for practicality, frugality and savings. Yep, it's that kind of year. And here we go:
1. Create a Budget: According to the Federal Reserve, nearly half of Americans spend more than what they earn every year. So, basically, stop it.
2. Build Up Savings: Financial planners recommend having three to six months' worth of expenses socked away at any given time. Hey, we can always dream.
3. Tackle Credit Card Debt: Tackle it, for sure. But don't do a victory dance or it's a 10-yard penalty and a re-play of down.
4. Plan for Retirement: A 25-year-old worker who contributes $300 to his 401(k) every month will have $920,142 at age 65. But will he be happy? It's hard to say.
5. Estate Planning: If you really care who gets your money after you're gone, for about 200 clams you can get an estate planner to make it happen.
So, there you have it. It may not be fun and exciting, but it's your money.
Brandon Barker also writes for Political Machine.
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