The US stock market underwent it's first 10% correction in 2018, and now stocks are on the edge of all-time highs, and driven higher by corporate earnings.
But, with global trade tensions growing day by day, rising short-term interest rates, and indications of moving into the late phase of the business cycle, a stock market decline may be on the horizon.
Indeed, Paul Tudor Jones, a hedge fund investor famous for predicting the 1987 stock market crash, is expecting a market crash as soon as 2019. He told Goldman Sachs, that "We have the strongest economy in 40 years, at full employment. The mood is euphoric. But it is unsustainable and comes with costs such as bubbles in stocks and credit." Jones isn't the only one predicting an imminent crash. Scott Minerd, Global chief investment officer and chairman of investments for Guggenheim Partners, told Times that, "The markets are potentially on a collision course for disaster." The majority of financial experts seem to agree: the economy has been too strong for too long, and now, something's got to give.
So, how can you prepare for the inevitable down turn? Here are six tips to help you protect your income in the case of a stock market decline.
Invest for the Long Term
While what goes up must come down, the opposite is also true when you're talking about the stock market. Though the stock market rises over longer periods of time, it's often interrupted by short-term downturns. The short term is ruled by investor confidence, meaning changes can happen quickly. But the long term tends to be more about real wealth creation as companies generate free cash flow and pay down debt. So, your short-term plays should only make up a small portion of your overall investment portfolio, as these can be more subject to damage in a volatile market.
Invest in Individual Companies Instead of Indexes
If the market begins to fall, it's best to have your money in individual companies that you believe in, instead of allocating money to an investment fund that tracks an index. Francis M. Kinniry, head of portfolio construction at Vanguard, told the New York Times that, "It's not an active versus index story, it's high cost versus low cost. They underperform because they're charging too much for the 'alpha' they generate," he added, referring to the return in excess of the market return.
Have as little debt as possible
Debt only gets harder to pay off during a decline in the market. Make sure that you aren't spread too thin on margin (borrowed funds to invest with) when a market crash starts to look likely.
After the last market crash, Europe and Japan were slower to recover than the United States and therefore still have years to go before they crash. Darrell L. Cronk, president of the Wells Fargo Investment Institute, said that the recoveries in Europe and Japan started closer to 2014, as opposed to 2009 in the United States. So, your money may actually be safer invested overseas.
Diversify your Investments
As the saying goes, don't keep all your eggs in one basket. Make sure you don't have all of your money tied up in one place, because then a sudden drop could mean financial disaster. Instead, diversify your stock portfolio, and diversify across different asset classes and regions as well. How you invest depends on your risk tolerance, time horizon, and long and short term goals. Careful diversification can be one of the best tools to come out of a stock market crash financially intact.
Cash is King
Wall Street Journal
Tying up all your money in the stock market is never a good idea. Make sure you have some cash saved to get you through in case your investments take a hit, or some cash in the money market. Your goal should always be to conduct your affairs so that if you were to get laid off or meet some other unexpected cash expense, you would not be on the brink of disaster.
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As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.
Extensive Plants and Greenery
A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.
As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.
There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.
Usable Outdoor Furniture
Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.
A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.
Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.
Acting Quickly Out of Emotion
Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.
Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.
Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation
Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.
If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.
Donating Unusable Materials
Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.
Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.
Strictly Giving at Year's End
As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.
With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.
Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.
The Age of Your House
Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.
The One-Percent Rule
An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.
The Square-Foot Rule
Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.
The Mix and Match Method
Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.
Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.