The pandemic and recession has 72% of Americans reporting they feel stressed about money within the last month, a new survey by the American Psychological Association finds, while 35% of Americans could not last one month on their savings.
“Among the many bits of wealth-killing conventional financial ‘wisdom’ is the recommendation that you have an emergency fund equal to three to six months of your household expenses,” says Pamela Yellen, financial investigator and two-time New York Times best-selling author. “Almost every financial ‘expert’ parrots this advice, even though millions of Americans were out of work for more than a year in the last major recession.”
Pamela offers these three steps to break free from your financial stress.
1. Start Building a Safe and Liquid Emergency Fund Equal to Two Years of Your Household Expenses
This gives you a cushion in case you lose your job and allows you to avoid high-interest finance charges by not having to put unexpected expenses on a charge card. It also gives you a sense of control over your future, and the ability to take advantage of opportunities. Just as emergency expenses come up when we least expect them, so do opportunities.
2. Build Emergency Savings in a Financial Vehicle that Provides Flexibility and Guaranteed Competitive Growth:
Savings and money market accounts and CDs pay so little interest you practically need a magnifying glass to see it, so it’s not very motivating to stash a lot of cash there. However, your money has to “reside” someplace – a bank or investment account, in currencies or commodities, or under your mattress. Pamela recommends using a high cash-value, dividend-paying whole life policy, the savings strategy she calls Bank On Yourself. These policies provide competitive, guaranteed growth every year, even when markets are tanking, and allow policyholders to take a loan against their cash value any time for any reason.
3. Start Building A Safe and Liquid Emergency Fund Now
Every crisis presents us with opportunities. The pandemic has resulted in a jump in the savings rate, most of which is in accounts earning little to nothing. And the shutdown made many of us realize that we can get by just fine without some of the things we once viewed as “necessities.”
“Right now – before we lose the lessons of the pandemic – is the time to double down and take the steps needed to gain control of your finances and set yourself up for a financially stress-free future,” Pamela says.
About the Author: Pamela Yellen is founder of Bank On Yourself, a financial investigator and the author of two New York Times best-selling books. Readers can get a free copy of her latest book, “Rescue Your Retirement: Five Wealth-Killing Traps of 401(k)s, IRAs and Roth Plans — and How to Avoid Them,” here for a limited time.