Regardless of how you feel about President Donald Trump's economic policies, you can't deny that they are going to have a serious impact on the economy and your finances.
We may come out on top, but the next few years are likely to be a bumpy financial ride.
There's nothing you can do about that, but you can make some investments to protect your assets from the turbulence. Consider it a seatbelt for your money.
Let's take a look.
1. Learn to Love ‘Too Big to Fail’
In theory you can ride out many of your losses by just waiting until times stabilize and your assets return to a profitable value. That is, however, assuming that the assets don't fail completely. Companies fold when the economy is rough, and when they fold any stake you had in them disappears.
Invest instead in markets, funds, and individual stocks belonging to long-standing, well-proven institutions that are guaranteed to survive anything short of the end of the world. They don't have the growth in good times that younger, nimbler picks might...but they're better able to still be there on the other side.
2. Max Out Your ‘Free Money’
Look at your employee benefits package, credit card rewards, membership benefits, and any other access you have to special financial deals. For example, you might be eligible for investment fund-matching at work, or for cash back on one credit card instead of another. Even some grocery stores and other vendors have options of this sort.
Investment dividends are low during financial upheaval, but fund-matching at 50% is an immediate 50% yield. You can apply the same math to other rewards and benefits. Do a quick audit of your opportunities, and make the most of them.
3. New (or Changed) Retirement Accounts
You'll likely want to talk with your financial adviser about this one, but we'll go over the basics here. The tax rules for different retirement accounts make them more or less beneficial in differing financial contexts.
For example, a traditional IRA defers taxation until you retire. Most people make less while retired than while working, so this puts them in a lower tax bracket when they access the funds. A Roth IRA taxes you now, and you don't pay taxes on it in retirement. Depending on how income and employment are impacted in off years, you might make less than you will in retirement. Switching from traditional to Roth for your IRA contribution might be a good move.
As we said, that's simply an example. The realities and options are much more complex and open. Check with your financial expert for advice on how the details of this might apply to you.
4. Use Accounts With Low Fees for Changes, Sales, and Buys
Day-trading and timing the market aren't for everybody, but there are losses to be avoided and money to be made while sailing rough financial waters. If you feel you're up for this, you could be making things worse if you invest in accounts that charge high fees for pulling out money, selling shares, or buying more.
Instead, opt for accounts with low fees for changes and activity. It will make your holdings nimbler, and better able to adapt to the changing situation. Again, this is for people who want to stay active in a changing market. If you prefer to ride it out (see below), there's no need to make this shift.
We're not suggesting you sell all of your even moderately risky assets and move them into something safer. Times aren't going to be that interesting. But consider moving some of your new investment purchases into one or more of these options, or shifting a portion of your portfolio. You may be sacrificing some potential for massive gains, but you'll also be cutting your losses.
Keep in mind that doing nothing is what many experts recommend in the face of challenging economic times. Stock market downturns typically have short lifespans, so considering a hands-off approach usually has better results than you might expect.
Andrew Schrage is the CEO and co-owner of MoneyCrashers.com, a financial education website. Schrage was educated at Brown University and after a stint at an investment fund in Chicago, he decided to branch out on to his own. The MoneyCrashers website is dedicated to helping people make better decisions as far as managing their money, and includes tips and helpful advice on ways to save cash, reduce credit card debt, investing for the future, and the importance of having an emergency fund, among a wide variety of other topics. The goal of Money Crashers is to assist people in bettering and advancing their financial lives.
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