What to Do When the Stock Market Crashes

Stock market crashes have happened several times throughout history, and crashes in the future are all but guaranteed. These sharp declines in share prices are a scary concept for most investors.

The good news is that although market downturns can be painful, thoughtful planning and execution of investments — even during these times — can yield positive results.

What Is a Stock Market Crash?

Market crashes and market corrections are often viewed as the same thing, but in reality, they’re very different, and that difference is important to understand when planning your moves. Market corrections are periods of downward movement of 10% or greater that happen over a series of days, weeks, months, or even longer.

Market crashes, on the other hand, are rapid, widespread declines in stock prices, marked by high volatility. While there is no official percentage decline that defines a crash, the declines are painful and dramatic — often 30% or more.

Market crashes generally take place when signs of a bear market are on the horizon, there’s a general feeling of overvaluation in equities, and economic conditions are questionable or in all-out financial crises. At these points, panic selling hits the market, and major indexes like the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average take dives.

Crashes were seen during the Great Depression and the bursting of the real estate bubble, but that’s in the general sense. Market crashes can also come out of nowhere, as was the case on Black Monday, October 19, 1987, when the U.S. market took the biggest single-day hit in history, and it happened out of nowhere.


What to Do if the Stock Market Crashes

While there’s no way to accurately time when the next stock market crash will be, there are some troubling warning signs for 2021 or 2022.

What should you do the next time Wall Street seems to go into an all-out panic? Follow the eight steps below:

1. Keep Your Cool

The first thing to remember when the floor falls out of the stock market is that it’s important to keep your cool. Emotion is the enemy of the investor, and emotional decisions can lead to significant losses far beyond what you should have to accept.

History tells us that market crashes are, for the most part, short-term movements that happen over the course of days, weeks, or months — or in severe crashes, maybe a year. Once the market reaches what investors perceive to be the bottom, stock prices begin to rebound, often leading to a long, drawn-out recovery filled with opportunity.

Some of the best examples of this are:

  • COVID-19 Crash. The coronavirus pandemic led to sharp declines from February through March of 2020, but by the end of March, prices were already beginning to rebound. Investors who stayed the course enjoyed a swift, V-shaped recovery, and the S&P 500 began recording all-time highs again by August 2020.
  • The Great Recession. The Great Recession was one of the worst market crashes in history. However, even during this drawn-out stock market crash, prices only declined for about six months, from August 2008 to March 2009. The bottom in 2009 was followed by the longest bull market in history, which spanned more than a decade.
  • Black Monday. The Black Monday stock market crash led to the worst single-day losses in U.S. stock market history, but stock prices reached the bottom in less than a month.

The fact of the matter is that the market is known for upward and downward fluctuations, and some are better or worse than others. Seasoned long-term investors have learned to ignore these fluctuations because longer periods of bull market activity more than make up for the declines in the vast majority of cases.

That means a market crash isn’t a time to panic — it’s a time to think strategically.

2. Don’t Run From Opportunity

It may seem counterintuitive, but a market crash is one of the best times to find long-term opportunities in the market. Stock market declines will happen, but as the great value investor Warren Buffett would point out to you, it’s best to buy when the market is fearful and sell when the market is greedy. That’s the basis of Buffett’s favorite investment strategy, value investing.

There are tons of investment strategies to use during bear markets. Rather than turning and running from the market, pay close attention to what’s going on within it. When opportunity comes knocking, be ready to answer the door.

3. Assess Your Asset Allocation Strategy

One of the reasons long-term investors don’t fret about a market crash is because when they put their portfolios together, they do so following an asset allocation strategy based on their risk tolerance.

Asset allocation strategies outline how much of your investment portfolio should be invested in asset classes like stocks, mutual funds, index funds, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and how much of your portfolio value should be nested in safer assets like bonds and other fixed-income securities.

When the market is crashing, it’s the perfect time to assess your allocation strategy and determine whether it falls in line with your risk tolerance. If your portfolio isn’t quite as protected as you thought it was, it’s time to mix it up and bring more fixed-income investments into the picture. On the other hand, if your portfolio is too conservative, consider looking for opportunities to add undervalued stocks to your portfolio.

If you haven’t paid attention to asset allocation at all, it’s time to start. A great way to adjust your allocation for the first time is to use your age as a guide.

For example, if you’re 25 years old, consider investing 25% of your portfolio in low-risk fixed income securities and the remaining 75% in stocks and similar vehicles. As you age, more of your portfolio should be allocated to safer investments because you have more time to wait out and recover from declines should they happen when you’re younger.

4. Assess Your Diversification Strategy

You likely grew up hearing the old adage, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” This adage is an important one to remember in various aspects of life, including investing. In fact, diversification is key in any long-term investment portfolio.

To diversify means to spread your investing dollars over a variety of investment opportunities. That way if one or more investments falter, gains among other investments in your portfolio limit the impact of the blow.

When the stock market crashes, it’s a great time to assess whether your diversification strategy is working in your favor or against you. When looking at your portfolio, ask yourself the following questions:

Am I Investing Too Much Money Into a Single Asset?

Properly diversified portfolios have 20 or more separate investments, with no more than 5% in any single asset and no more than 5% total in the entire group of high-risk assets like penny stocks and Bitcoin.

If more than 5% of your asset value is invested in any single stock, it’s best to divest your holdings until the 5% cap is reached. You can use the money you gain from the divestment to invest in other opportunities.

Am I Investing Across Sectors?

Investors tend to invest in sectors they’re comfortable with. This is especially true for beginner investors.

However, if all of your investments are in the tech sector, and that sector crashes, you’ll be left with significant losses. A well diversified portfolio includes investments across various sectors, especially those that are not highly correlated with one another.

Am I Mixing In Safe Assets?

Growth stocks tend to be the biggest gainers in bull markets and the biggest losers in market crashes. On the other hand, income investments generate slow, steady growth and tend to hold their ground in bear markets.

Assess your portfolio to see whether your money is diversified between different styles of assets to protect you during rough times.

5. Look for Undervalued Opportunities

During a stock market crash, prices fall dramatically — that’s a given. But, as mentioned above, value investors like Warren Buffett will tell you that it’s best to buy when the market is fearful and sell when the market is greedy, and for good reason.

When buying during or shortly after a crash, you’ll enjoy lower prices than you would when the bulls are running on Wall Street. Considering that investing, at its core, is about buying low and selling high, a crash is the best time to buy, but it’s important not to go crazy and start buying everything you see.

Instead, make a calculated effort to find the stocks that are enjoying the largest undervaluations, as they will become the stocks with the biggest potential for gains when the crash is over.

Finding undervalued stocks is as simple as paying close attention to value metrics like the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio or the price-to-book-value ratio.

Pro tip: Before you add any stocks to your portfolio, make sure you’re choosing the best possible companies. Stock screeners like Stock Rover can help you narrow down the choices to companies that meet your individual requirements. Learn more about our favorite stock screeners.

6. Practice Dollar-Cost Averaging

Dollar-cost averaging is the process of spreading large investments out equally over a period of time. For example, if you wanted to buy $5,000 worth of ABC stock, you could decide to make five investments of $1,000 in ABC every day, week, or month.

Spacing out your investments following a crash protects you from sharp declines should the crash not yet be over.

Let’s say you decided to make five $1,000 weekly investments in ABC, which traded at $20 per share on week one, $15 per share on week two, $17.50 per share on week three, $20 per share on week four, and $15 per share on week five.

In this case, your $1,000 each week would purchase 50 shares, 66 shares, 57 shares, 50 shares, and 66 shares on weeks one through five, respectively. At the end of the five week run, you would end up with 289 shares of ABC stock.

If you had invested all $5,000 in ABC shares on the first week, you would have purchased 250 shares. By dollar-cost-averaging, you ended up with 39 additional shares for your money.

Looking at this example from a gain/loss perspective, either investment would have declined because ABC stock dropped from $20 per share at the beginning to $15 per share at the end. But the $5,000 one-time investment would be worth $3,750 at the end of the five-week period, while the separate investments would be worth $4,335, giving you less ground to make up when the market starts to rebound.

7. Rebalance When the Storm Passes

Volatility is commonplace during crashes. Wide fluctuations in value will ultimately throw your portfolio’s balance out of whack as some asset prices change more than others. Once prices start to rebound, it’s time to rebalance your portfolio and make sure it still aligns with your investment strategy.

Rebalancing a portfolio is a relatively simple process. Start by making a note of what percentage of your investment dollars are invested in stocks and similar assets and what percentage of your portfolio is invested in fixed-income investments. Doing so will let you know if your allocation is still in line.

Next, look at each individual investment and determine what percentage of your overall portfolio value is invested in each one. If those percentages are higher than you’d like them to be, divest the assets until your allocation has reached a comfortable level. Use the money you’ve divested from these investments to buy other assets that are underallocated according to your strategy.

8. Consider Hiring a Financial Advisor

Most people have a drive to do what they can for themselves, avoiding costs associated with hiring professionals. However, showing up to the stock market during a market crash without knowledge of the inner workings of the system or without a financial expert is like showing up to court without an attorney.

There’s no harm in seeking professional help when you’re not sure about something, especially when that something is your hard-earned money. If you’re still nervous about investing during a crash after reading this guide, it’s wise to seek the assistance of an expert. SmartAsset has a service that helps you locate fiduciary advisors in your area or you could use a service like Vanguard Personal Adviser Services.


Final Word

Stock market crashes will happen from time to time; it’s the nature of the beast. However, by keeping your cool, adjusting your allocation and diversification strategies, and making wise decisions, these market declines can prove to be major opportunities.

As is always the case, whether the bulls or bears are running, it’s important to do your research and get a thorough understanding of what you’re investing in prior to making any investment decisions.

Source: moneycrashers.com

25 Home Depot Shopping Tips & Tricks to Save Money

Since purchasing my first fixer-upper home a few years back, I’ve set foot inside the Home Depot at least 100 times, and I couldn’t begin to tell you how many visits I’ve made to the home improvement giant’s website.

I’ve spent more money than I’d like to admit. Thankfully, I’ve saved many thousands of dollars too.

If you’re planning a home improvement project to reduce homeownership costs, improve your home’s energy efficiency, or increase your home’s value — or if you’re just taking care of a few DIY projects — check out these tips and tricks.

How to Save Money Shopping at Home Depot

These are the most reliable tips to save money at Home Depot. They range from little-known discounts to well-worn advice on shopping trip timing.

1. Find Home Depot Coupons

Home Depot’s coupon page is a goldmine for discounts and deals in-store and online. If you’re planning a store visit, scroll to the bottom to search for your local ad, which contains time-limited sales not advertised elsewhere on Home Depot’s website.

2. Sign Up for Text Alerts

Sign up for Home Depot’s text alerts if your mobile provider doesn’t charge for inbound SMS messages. You’ll receive at least several messages per week.

Home Depot’s text alerts aren’t particularly well targeted. I’ve received countless offers from departments I’ve never purchased anything in.

But enough alerts are relevant to justify signing up, especially if you’re in the early stages of a big project that will require multiple trips to Home Depot. You can always unsubscribe when you complete the project.

3. Join the Email List for a One-Time Discount

Sign up for Home Depot’s free email list to earn $5 off your next purchase online or in-store. The discount comes as an emailed coupon.

After signing up, you receive Home Depot’s occasional promotion emails, which offer:

  • In-store and online discounts and savings opportunities
  • How-to guides for DIYers
  • Home improvement project ideas and tips

If you’re worried about the extra emails, popular email suites like Gmail divert promotional emails into a separate inbox (labeled “Promotions”) to keep users’ primary inboxes clear. Or you can set up a filter of your own. You’ll barely notice the additional message volume.

4. Search HomeDepot.com for Product-Specific Rebates

Home Depot’s rebate center advertises thousands of rebates on specific products. Part of the reason it has so many is because Home Depot rebates apply at the SKU (unique stock number) level.

That means products that come in different configurations or sizes are likely to have multiple rebates associated with them — different rebate amounts for different sizes, for example.

Many individual SKUs are also eligible for more than one rebate. For instance, an energy-efficient appliance might qualify for a green energy tax credit, a utility company rebate, and a manufacturer rebate.

You must apply for each rebate separately online or by mail, but it’s worth the trouble when you stand to save hundreds on a major purchase.

5. Check for Overstock Deals

Home Depot’s special values include hundreds of overstock products in your local store, either in stock or eligible for ship-to-store. Many are deeply discounted — over 50% in some cases.

It can be hard to find the exact color or specifications you’d like. But if you’re not picky, it’s a fantastic place to find deals on the home goods you need.

If you’re already in your Home Depot store or planning to venture in anyway, check the back for heavily discounted overstock and damaged merchandise. In the rear of the lumber department, old boards sell for up to 70% off, and store staff will cut up to two lengths for free.

Nearby, there’s often a cart or two of miscellaneous discounted products with cosmetic dings or dents that don’t impact function.

6. Look for Daily Deals

Home Depot runs enticing daily deals every day. The category-specific Special Buy of the Day rotates through fairly broad product categories, such as residential water treatment systems and whole-home cooling systems.

7. Use a Cash-Back Credit Card With Rotating Categories

Using a cash-back rewards card with rotating cash-back categories is a must every time you patronize a home improvement retailer.

Your best bet is the Chase Freedom Flex credit card (read our Chase Freedom Flex review) and its quarterly rotating 5% categories. Home improvement stores enter the rotation every year or two. However, Chase makes no guarantees about what’s in store for the future (and typically doesn’t reveal 5% categories until a few weeks before the start of a new quarter).

8. Take Advantage of Temporary Credit Card Offers

Chase Freedom isn’t the only credit card that promises above-average rewards on Home Depot purchases.

Other Chase credit cards have been known to extend time-limited bonus opportunities to cardholders. Examples include the Chase Freedom® Unlimited credit card (read our Chase Freedom Unlimited review) and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card (read our Sapphire Preferred review).

Amex Offers, a members-only discount database for American Express cardholders, usually includes home improvement stores as well.

9. Wait for Promotions to Make Major Purchases

Whether you’re planning a major DIY or contracted home improvement project, it always pays to wait for the right time to purchase your supplies. Once you’ve finished your shopping list, visit or call to ask about upcoming promotions.

You probably won’t have to wait long.

For example, before a major kitchen renovation, my wife and I purchased cabinets and countertops in two separate orders. We bagged the countertops as soon as we decided on the material and pattern to avoid missing a 20%-off sale. But we waited two weeks after settling on cabinets to make the purchase. That was just long enough to snag 30% off that part of the order.

Our design tech told us we probably wouldn’t have to wait longer than two more months for the next cabinets promotion.

10. Be the Squeaky Wheel

Don’t hesitate to escalate. This trick is near-universal in the retail world, but I’ve had excellent luck with it at Home Depot. Department and store managers have tremendous leeway on pricing.

Even rank-and-file department employees are authorized to knock up to $50 off merchandise if the customer isn’t satisfied.

I thought I’d gotten a good deal on new interior French doors during a 15% off sale, but when it took longer than promised to receive them, I politely complained and got another $50 off on the spot.

11. Take Advantage of Special Financing on Major Purchases

Home Depot offers interest-free financing on large purchases for credit-qualified customers.

Chain-wide, the standard deal is a 0% annual percentage rate (APR) for six months on purchases of $299 or more. Individual stores may offer longer interest-free deals on larger purchases.

I’ve taken advantage of a 24-month 0%-APR financing period on a four-figure purchase (the threshold was $1,999 in that instance). That’s the longest interest-free financing period I’ve seen at Home Depot.

But applying for Home Depot’s 0%-APR financing offers means submitting to a hard credit pull that temporarily lowers your credit score by a few points. If approved, you receive a credit card with a credit limit determined by things like your credit score and income.

The larger the purchase amount, the higher your initial credit utilization ratio. And on substantial purchases, your credit limit could be just a little higher than the purchase price. That also negatively affects your credit score, with the effects lingering until you mostly pay off your balance.

Make up for the hit by keeping your credit card account open and unused after paying off the initial balance. I keep my Home Depot credit card in the bottom of a secure filing cabinet, where it’s remained untouched since it arrived.

There’s another perk to using a Home Depot credit card or credit line: an extended return window.

You can return most merchandise (except those listed as uncovered by Home Depot’s return policy) purchased with qualifying Home Depot credit products for up to one year (365 days) from the purchase date.

12. Capitalize on Home Depot’s Expansive Price-Match Policy

Home Depot’s low-price guarantee includes a generous price-match policy that covers in-store and online purchases.

If you find a lower advertised price on an identical product to one you purchased from Home Depot, Home Depot will match that price and the competitor’s shipping rate (if any) and reimburse the difference.

13. Rent a Truck at Your Local Home Depot

Are you moving across town? Or planning to haul the results of your DIY demolition project to the dump?

Before overpaying for a U-Haul or calling in a favor from that one friend with a pickup truck, check your local Home Depot. Though selection varies by store, many have flatbeds (essentially heavy-duty pickups) and box trucks (large moving vans) available for rent by the hour or day.

Home Depot’s truck and tool rental page has more details. For flatbeds, the ideal rental window is two hours or less, after which hourly pricing rises steeply.

14. Rent Tools Before You Buy

Home Depot rents a slew of tools that are too expensive, bulky, or specialized for most people to invest in, especially if you’re only using them occasionally or for one project.

After confirming the tool you need isn’t in stock at your neighborhood tool lending library or hardware store, both of which will probably be cheaper to rent on an hourly basis, stop by your local Home Depot warehouse.

Not all locations offer tools for rent, so check online beforehand.

15. Look for Prices Ending in 6 and 3

It’s easy to spot in-store discounts at Home Depot. Just find the yellow price tags and look at the last numeral. If it’s a 6, it’s a good deal. If it’s a 3, it’s a great deal. It’s the lowest the department is willing to go on that particular merchandise.

Discounted prices ending in 6 typically last for six weeks. Then, the price drops to one ending in 3, where it remains until the product sells out or Home Depot removes unsold inventory to make room for higher-margin stock.

16. Return Dead or Unproductive Plants Within One Year for a Full Refund

The Home Depot garden center’s return policy is better than any other department’s. Perennials, trees, and shrubs all carry a one-year (365-day) guarantee.

If they die or fail to bear flowers or fruit (when applicable) during that period, you can return them for a full refund.

17. Take Advantage of Recurring Annual or Seasonal Sales

Home Depot excels at seasonal sales. At any given time, at least one department is holding a blockbuster clearance event. Examples include:

  • Plants. The garden center typically offers the most enticing deals in April, or whenever spring comes to your neck of the woods. In colder climates, fall sales on perennials, including trees and shrubs, typically feature massive markdowns. Members of the Home Depot Garden Club may qualify for additional discounts and sales not available to the general public as part of their free membership.
  • Holiday Decor and Accessories. Holiday decorations like wreaths, natural and artificial Christmas trees, and serving ware first go on sale during Black Friday week. The home improvement giant marks them down even further in January.
  • Grills. The week of July Fourth is the best time to buy grills at Home Depot.
  • Paint. Paint discounts peak on Memorial and Labor Day weekends, with savings up to 40%.
  • Kitchen and Bath. The first quarter of the year is the best time to make significant kitchen and bath purchases at Home Depot.
  • Patio Furniture. Take advantage of clearance items in Home Depot’s patio furniture department during the waning days of patio season, which can vary by geography.

18. Set Up Subscriptions for Recurring Purchases

Home Depot Subscriptions is a recurring home delivery program that promises 5% savings across the board on household staples like coffee, cleaning supplies, air filters, and pet food.

The program also touts contractor staples, such as job site safety equipment, painting supplies, and power tool accessories.

But Home Depot Subscriptions isn’t the only subscription service. So confirm it’s cost-competitive with alternatives like Amazon Subscribe & Save before enrolling.

19. Leverage Your Military Status

Home Depot treats service members well. Active-duty and retired career personnel get 10% military discounts on every order.

But Home Depot doesn’t leave out veterans entirely. It also offers the same 10% discount to veterans, including honorably discharged enlistees and reservists, during select holiday periods, such as the days leading up to Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

20. Buy Floor Models

If you’re in the market for a major appliance and don’t mind one other people have touched and ogled, buy the floor model. It isn’t always apparent whether floor models are for sale, so ask the department manager if you’re unsure.

And while haggling isn’t common elsewhere at Home Depot, managers are authorized to move older display inventory to make room for newer stock. Discounts of up to 30% off aren’t out of the question.

21. Buy Oops Paint

When you’re doing a project that doesn’t involved finding the perfect hue, such as painting the inside of your garage, turn to the Home Depot paint department’s “oops paint,” the term it uses for paints that are the result of mixing mistakes.

For color-flexible customers, the standard oops discount is about 70% per gallon.

22. Buy From the Pro Desk for Deeper Discounts

The Home Depot Pro Desk primarily deals with professional contractors, but it’s willing to make an exception for high-rolling DIYers too.

If your purchase list adds up to more than $1,500, you qualify for Home Depot’s Volume Pricing Program, which promises up to 30% off materials and supplies.

Technically, you need to join the free Pro Xtras club to get the discount, but it’s often possible to work out a one-time deal with whomever’s on staff at the Pro Desk.

If you’re not planning to spend $1,500 or more on your DIY project, you can still take advantage of bulk pricing on raw materials like tile, lumber, and plumbing.

When available, the bulk price appears on the same price tag as the regular price along with the minimum qualifying quantity.

23. Ask for Recent or Forthcoming Sale Pricing

Home Depot department heads have leeway to extend sale pricing upon request. Asking for a deal that ended last week (or isn’t scheduled to begin until next week) won’t pan out every time.

If you can, waiting for the next sale is a better bet. Still, asking for sale pricing outside sale periods is worth a shot.

24. Get Warrantied Tools Repaired In-Store

If the tool or appliance you bought at Home Depot malfunctions before its manufacturer’s warranty period expires, bring it into your local store for repair. As long as the warranty is valid and the problem arose from regular use, Home Depot doesn’t charge for repairs.

Better yet, it files the warranty claim on your behalf, saving you time and eliminating the suspense of waiting for approval.

25. Use Third-Party Resources to Save Even More

These resources aren’t directly affiliated with Home Depot, but that doesn’t mean they can’t significantly reduce your net spending with the home improvement giant:

  • Paribus. Sometimes, we don’t realize we’ve overspent until days or weeks after the fact. Capital One’s Paribus crawls the Internet for price declines, automatically notifies the user when it finds a lower price on a purchased product, and helps them recover the difference. Paribus is free for Capital One® Venture® Rewards credit card and Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards credit card users, among others. (Read our Capital One Venture and Capital One Quicksilver reviews.)
  • Gift Card Resellers. Buy discounted Home Depot gift cards through resellers like Raise.
  • Cash-Back Apps. Find unique coupon codes or cash-back opportunities from popular cash-back apps like Ibotta, Honey, and BeFrugal. For best results, install the apps’ browser plug-in and shop online to get a reminder to activate them while shopping.

Final Word

Finding what you’re after in a mammoth Home Depot store isn’t always easy.

Paying less after locating it than you would at another home improvement superstore? Comparatively, that’s a snap.

With so many reliable ways to save money at America’s largest home improvement superstore, it’s a wonder DIYers shop anywhere else. As you plan your next home remodel project or seasonal appliance purchase, don’t forget to look for the savings opportunities.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Margin Call Meaning – What It Is, Causes & How to Handle One

Margins are a commonly used tool among investors, especially those who take part in day trading. Margins allow traders to increase their buying power with borrowed funds using a mix of their own money and loans from their brokers in a process known as margin trading.

Although margin loans provide an opportunity for substantially larger gains, there’s also potential for substantially larger losses should things go in the wrong direction.

Margin traders also have to worry about the dreaded margin call, which takes place when their account value falls below minimum margin requirements, which could ultimately lead to forced liquidation within their portfolios.

What is a margin call and how does it work? Read on to learn about margin calls and your options should one happen to you.

What Is a Margin Call?

Traders who use margins must maintain a minimum margin requirement, or a minimum amount of value in unborrowed cash and equities in their accounts. This requirement ensures the brokers aren’t left holding the bag on bad trades should things go wrong.

Maintenance margin requirements vary from one brokerage to another, but the minimum requirement will be at least 25% — a requirement set by both the New York Stock Exchange and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). However, some brokers charge as much as 40% of the amount you borrow.

What’s all of this mean?

When trading on margins, traders take out margin loans to cover a percentage of the value of the securities they are purchasing. For example, you might use $5,000 of your own money and $5,000 of the broker’s money through a margin loan to purchase stock, giving you a total of $10,000 in stock.

In this example, $5,000 of the investment is not your money — it’s borrowed from your broker.

Now imagine your $10,000 investment dropped to $6,250. At this price, after subtracting the $5,000 you borrowed, your personal equity in the investment is down to $1,250.

Because $1,250 represents 25% of the $5,000 margin loan, if the price falls below this point, a margin call would be triggered because the trader’s equity in the investment would fall below the 25% margin requirement threshold.

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Types of Margin Calls

There are two different types of margin calls traders should consider before trading on margins. They include:

Maintenance Margin Calls

Maintenance margin calls take place when the account value falls below the minimum margin requirement with the broker. This is the type of margin call that’s described above. Each broker has a different minimum margin requirement, but the floor for this requirement is 25% of the borrowed amount that you must maintain in your account.

Federal Margin Calls

Federal margin calls are a bit different. While a maintenance-related call has to do with an investment that has already been placed, a federal margin call — often referred to as a fed call — takes place when a margin trade is being initiated.

According to the United States Federal Reserve’s regulation T, margin trades can be placed using a maximum of 50% borrowed money. This is known as the initial margin requirement. For example, if you’re planning on buying $10,000 worth of stock in a margin trade, you’ll have to have at least $5,000 of your own money to put up for that trade.

If you attempt to make a margin trade without having the 50% required to appease the Federal Reserve, a federal margin call will take place, which will lead to one of two outcomes:

  1. The Trade Will Be Blocked. With most brokers, if you attempt to make a margin trade without meeting the initial margin requirement, the trade will be blocked and cancelled, and you’ll have to set up another trade within the parameters set forth by regulation T.
  2. Other Securities Liquidated. In some cases, your broker may force the liquidation of other securities in your portfolio to free up the cash needed to make the trade viable.

Either way, the outcome isn’t what investors want.


How to Calculate at What Price a Margin Call Takes Place

Most traders would prefer taking a loss to triggering a margin call. After all, when a margin call is triggered, it means the loss on the investment was so large that it made the trade fall below the minimum requirements.

Most traders calculate at what price a margin call would take place, giving them a baseline of where to close the trade before prices decline to that point.

To determine at what price a margin would happen, follow this formula:

((Margin Loan Amount X Minimum Margin Requirement) + Margin Loan Amount) ÷ Number of Shares = Call Price

For example, let’s say your brokerage firm has a maintenance margin requirement of 30%. You want to buy $10,000 worth of stock with $5,000 of your own money and a $5,000 loan. The stock is worth $50 per share at the moment, meaning that you’ll purchase 200 shares.

Plugging these figures into the formula above would result in the following:

(($5,000 X 0.30) + $5,000) / 200 = $32.50

In this example, if the price of the stock you purchased for $50 per share fell to a market value of $32.50 per share, a call would be triggered, forcing the trader to respond.

Pro tip: Before you add any stocks to your portfolio, make sure you’re choosing the best possible companies. Stock screeners like Trade Ideas can help you narrow down the choices to companies that meet your individual requirements. Learn more about our favorite stock screeners.


What Are Your Options When You Get a Margin Call?

When you log into your brokerage account and see that a call has taken place, it may be a bit overwhelming. The good news is that you have three options to consider to remedy the situation before a forced liquidation takes place:

  1. Deposit Additional Funds. The best option is to deposit additional cash into your margin account to bring the cash and equity value of the account up to the minimum requirements. Of course, this only works if you have additional money outside the account that you can afford to add.
  2. Deposit Securities. The minimum requirements take both cash and the value of securities into account. If you have securities held elsewhere, you can deposit those securities into your margin account to bring the total value of the account up to the minimum requirement.
  3. Liquidate Stock. Finally, you have the option to liquidate shares of stock within your account, using the funds generated through the liquidation to bring your account value back up to par with minimum requirements.

How to Respond to a Margin Call

Returning to the example above, you know that a margin call will be triggered if the price of the stock falls below $32.50. For this example, let’s say the value of the stock fell to $30 per share. That means the current value of your 200 shares works out to $6,000. However, a call triggers as soon as the value of the investment falls below $6,500, meaning that the margin call is for $500.

At this point, you can choose one of three options:

Deposit Funds

First, you can choose to deposit at least $500 into your account to bring the account’s value after the margin loan back up to $1,500, or 30% of the total value of the margin loan. This requires adding $500 of new cash into your account, but you don’t need to move or sell any shares.

Deposit Shares of Stock

You also have the option to deposit shares of stock into your account. Say you have another brokerage account where you own $500 worth of stock. By transferring those shares into your margin account, you’ll bring its total value above the minimum margin requirement, bringing your account back into good standing.

Liquidate

Finally, you have the option to liquidate a portion or all of your holdings in the margin trade. Through the liquidation of a portion of your holdings in the investment, you can balance out the minimum requirement and eradicate the issue altogether.

For example, you could choose to liquidate 100 of your 200 shares, the sale of which would result in $3,000 cash at the current share price. These funds would be used to pay back $3,000 of the $5,000 margin loan.

You’re left with $3,000 worth of stock — $1,000 of your own money and $2,000 left of the margin loan — still invested. Your remaining $1,000 holdings are 50% of the remaining $2,000 loan — more than enough to cover your minimum requirement. However, you’ll have realized a substantial loss.


Final Word

A margin call is nothing that any trader wants to deal with, but if you make the decision to use margins, it will always be a possibility. While margins can expand profitability, they can also result in larger losses, and investors who use them need to consider the extent of these potential losses before getting involved.

Nonetheless, if the risk is worth the reward for you, and you end up with a margin call, don’t panic. Instead, consider which of the three possible remedies to use to bring your account back in line with requirements.

Moreover, if you’re going to trade on margins, treat the trade like any other loan and make sure that you never borrow more money than you can afford to return. In doing so, if and when a margin call does take place, you’ll have the ability to cover the cost if you decide to stay in the investment and await a recovery.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Reasons Many People Stay in Debt

Why People Stay in DebtWhy People Stay in DebtDebts are sometimes inevitable in life. For most people, it would be next to impossible to own a home, a car, pay bills or even get an education without credit. Federal Bank of New York released a report that put household debt and credit at $13.29 trillion in the second quarter of 2018.

Do people end up repaying all these debts? Unfortunately no; many people are up to their necks in debt and quite a large number of them are doing nothing towards repayment. There are numerous reasons why many people stay in debt. Here are several:

Living Beyond Means

This simply means that you are spending more than you are bringing in. If what you are earning cannot comfortably cater for house and car payments, insurance, other fixed costs and house expenses, then you cannot afford that kind of a lifestyle. It is even worse if you freely use your credit cards to pay for what your income cannot support. What happens is that debts start accumulating and accruing interest month after month and before you know it, you are swimming in debt with no way to escape.

Spending Without a Budget

According to a recent study, only 41% Americans use a budget. This means that most people cannot track their spending habits leave alone plan for the future. Without a budget and with several credit cards at your disposal, it is easy to spend your money uncontrollably and end up depending on credit as you wait for the next pay. The repeated cycle leads to failed repayments which consequently increases the outstanding debts.

Job Loss or Reduced Income

Having a job gives you the confidence to use credit knowing that your income is able to cover the repayments. Should you unexpectedly lose the job, it becomes impossible to make your repayments which may also attract additional interests and penalty fees. Even if you end-up getting another job, it is possible that your credit card debts will have soared to levels that you may no longer sustain. Similarly, a pay-cut or reduced income may also make you lag behind on your repayments leading to accrued debts.

Unwillingness to Sacrifice

If you are deep in debt and you still fight to maintain the same life style, chances are that you will never repay your debts or worse still, they will keep increasing. The ability or inability to save for debt repayments may depend on your willingness to forego a few things like holidays, cable, birthday gifts, a big house and a luxurious car among others. The question is; are you willing to make the sacrifice?

Struggling to Keep up Appearances

It is just human nature to want to fit into certain statuses set by the society, family, friends etc. In an effort to fit, you may end up spending beyond what you can sustain with your income. Unfortunately, the demands may keep going higher and higher and unless you can tell yourself to stop, you will be up to your neck in debt within no time. The fact that you are keeping up appearances means that things are not good financially in the first place so unless you win a lottery or come into some huge cash, you will stay in debt for a long time.

Financial Illiteracy

In a quest to understand how financially literate the world is, people were asked 4 simple questions regarding risk, inflation and interest. Out of 150,000 adults from over 140 countries, only a third could answer 3 out of the 4 questions correctly. If you have no idea of how credit works, you keep on making mistakes that will increase your debts in the long run. Such include; late repayments, carelessly requesting for credit top-ups, and falling for the wrong lines of credit among others. This also comes with the inability to manage the credit hence leading to heaps upon heaps of debts.

Final Take

While it is normal for people to find themselves in debt at some point or another, not all of them end up paying. The reasons why many people stay in debt range from genuine ones to outright selfish ones. Debt accumulates little by little and before you know it, you are too debt ridden to do anything about it. On the other hand, with proper planning, a little sacrifice and commitment, it is possible to disentangle yourself from the debt cycle one step at a time.

Source: creditabsolute.com

Top 4 Things I Love About Dave Ramsey Baby Steps (And 4 Things I’d Change)

Dave Ramsey has helped thousands of people around the world through the 7 Baby Steps for financial peace and freedom.

The process works.

His book titled the Total Money Makeover has had some impressive sales numbers. The book has sold over 5 million copies and has been on the Wall Street Journal Best-Selling list for over 500 weeks. (That data is from August 2017, over 4 years ago, so it’s sold more by now.)

So, we know that the 7 Baby Steps work. There’s a lot to love above the process, and we will address 4 of those attributes here. We will also cover 4 things that we think could be updated this year (as it has been almost 30 years since the Baby Steps were created).

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7 Baby Steps really do work. There are three great reasons why the plan actual works:

a. The Baby Steps Force You To Get Gazelle Intense When It Comes To Paying Off Debt

I’ll mention this later, but I really appreciate that Dave Ramsey keeps the emergency fund smaller to force you to be gazelle intense. Having such a small emergency fund of $1000 really does force you to get out of debt faster because having too much money in the bank can cause you to stagnate. 

b. Dave Strongly Encourages Your Behavior Modification

Too many financial gurus don’t give it to you straight. They may tell you that you need to invest in real estate or cryptocurrency.  It often feels like a lie that you can achieve financial freedom without putting in a lot of work.

Dave Ramsey comes off as blunt many times, but he forces people to confront that the debt is often our fault (with some exceptions). His bluntness, along with the Baby Steps, forces you to self-reflect.

c. The Plan Is Simple And Shows How You Need To Focus On One Step At A Time

I’ll mention this more below, but it’s evident that his focused intensity on the Baby Steps plan helps you stay focused on the task. You complete the first 3 steps consecutively and the following 4 steps concurrently in a prioritized order. 

You don’t have to multitask. Also, you don’t need to think about another step. You just need to focus on the step at hand.

2) Dave Ramsey Is Right That You Need A Plan

Dave Ramsey has many helpful quotes. One of my favorite of Dave Ramsey’s quotes is, “You must plan your work and then work your plan”. 

Too often we go through life without a plan, but we expect that everything is going to work out just fine. I remember the first time I budgeted.  I thought that I spent a certain amount of money on eating out each month, only to realize that number was much higher.

We need plans. It could be a debt payoff plan to stay on top of your debt. It could also be a budget to understand your income and expenses. Or it could be a plan to pay off your home early as per Baby Step 6.

Dave Ramsey understood that which is why the Baby Steps plan is so useful. You stick to the plan and you get out of debt. Voila.

3) The Baby Steps Get Progressively More Challenging

One thing I noticed early was that the Baby Steps seems to get progressively more challenging. This helps build momentum. It is much easier to save $1000 than to pay off your house early. By starting and taking baby steps, the baby steps themselves actually don’t feel very babyish. 

Paying off your home early per Baby Step 6 feels much more like a big kid step, but it’s still just a Baby Step like the others. It’s impressive how Dave structured these baby steps.

4) The Community Around Dave Ramsey Baby Steps Is Incredible

You don’t have to look far to realize that the community around Dave Ramsey is incredible. You can take a Financial Peace University class at your local church. These classes are excellent to encourage you and help keep you accountable while you eliminate debt. You’ll learn the baby steps inside and out with others in your community. 

You can also be a part of a vibrant Dave Ramsey Facebook Community. Personally, I am a part of many of these communities where I receive a ton of encouragement when sharing wins and losses in the process of debt elimination.

There’s a lot to love about the Dave Ramsey Baby Step method.

Now, let’s cover a few things that could use a refresh.

1) Can Creating A Budget Be Baby Step #1?

I am a budget fanatic. I would love to see a Baby Step dedicated to budgeting. Why? Because budgeting helps you understand where every dollar goes. I used “every dollar” like that on purpose because Dave Ramsey himself created a budget app called EveryDollar for that very purpose.

What better way to understand how much money you have to put towards your emergency fund than starting with a budget.

I am not sure why Dave doesn’t start with a budget, but I would be keen to start the Baby Steps with creating one.

2) Dave Ramsey’s Emergency Fund May Need A Refresh

Dave Ramsey’s emergency fund calls you to save $1,000 in Baby Step 1. Is $1,000 enough? It really depends. 

First, adjusted for inflation, $1,000 in 1990 is now worth $2,043.26 per the US Inflation Calculator.

Dave Ramsey's emergency fund needs to be larger due to inflation

There’s a plethora of questions you can ask yourself when considering whether the emergency fund is big enough, such as:

  1. How much debt do you have to pay off?
  2. Do you own a home?
  3. How old is your car?
  4. How many kids do you have?
  5. Do you have insurance?

Another question I like to ask is, “where do you live?”. Personally, my family and I live in the Bay Area, California where the cost of living tends to be quite high. $1,000 wouldn’t get us very far.

3) Is The Snowball Method The Best Way To Pay Off Debt?

As a refresh, the debt snowball method means that you line up your debts from smallest to largest and pay your monthly extra to your smallest debt first then snowball into higher debts. The debt avalanche method is where you line up your debts from the highest interest rate and use your monthly extra to pay off the highest interest first. The savvy debt method is where you pay off 1-2 of your smallest balances first via snowball before reverting to the avalanche method to save the most in interest.

Dave Ramsey loves the debt snowball method. It has worked for many people, so why wouldn’t he? He feels the opposite for the debt avalanche where he mentions that it doesn’t work.

The challenge is that you could lose thousands in interest if your smallest debts also have the smallest interest rates. This can be possible because higher debt amounts carry a higher risk to the lenders, meaning potentially higher interest rates.

You can see how much the snowball method loses in comparison through this debt payoff calculator which compares interest paid from snowball to savvy methods. For reference, we are comparing 4 debts: $23,000 at 22%, $18,000 at 19%, $12,000 at 9% and $8,000 at 7% interest rate. The monthly payment is $1,825.00

debt snowball versus other debt payoff methods

In this example, you would lose over $3,500 in interest by choosing the snowball method.

Does that mean that the snowball method is always worse? Absolutely not. The snowball method may provide the psychological benefit that you need to exterminate your debt.

You choose the debt payoff app and debt payoff method that is best for you.

4) Should You Follow Dave Ramsey’s Advice And Pay Off Your House Early Or Invest?

Dave Ramsey loves mutual funds and paying off your home early. My question is what if your mutual funds are making so much more in interest than paying off your home would save you?

Wouldn’t the prudent thing be to continue to pay off your home and then get the higher interest from investing in mutual funds?  It’s not a one size fits all solution, but it is something to consider.

There are also often benefits of not paying off your home early such as interest paid being tax-deductible. That said, you would really need to determine whether you would make more money from mutual funds than saving from interest payments to determine what’s best for you.

What Do You Think About The Baby Steps?

The Dave Ramsey Baby Steps have helped thousands around the globe. What do you like about the Baby Steps? Do you agree or disagree with what we would change in 2021?

4 things I love about Dave Ramsey's baby steps and 4 things I'd change

Top 4 Things I Love About Dave Ramsey Baby Steps (And 4 Things I'd Change)

Source: biblemoneymatters.com

Is it Wise to Use Personal Credit for Business Finances?

Whether you want to start a business or to finance one that is already functioning, you may find your financing options reduced to taking a loan. In such a case, you have the option of taking either a personal or a business loan.

Given the unpredictable nature of businesses, it may not be wise to mix your personal and business finances. This advice notwithstanding, there are some circumstances in which using personal credit for business finances makes sense.

When to use personal credit for business finance

Starting a BusinessStarting a BusinessWhen your personal credit is more attractive

Credit score is among the main factors that determine the amount and rate of a loan. If your venture hasn’t established a good credit, a business loan may not be advisable.

Such a loan will probably be denied or approved under restrictive terms and high rates. On the other hand, you can still access finances by going for a personal loan if your credit score is more attractive.

When you are setting up

Lenders will require proof of the revenue generated by the business to determine its capability in repaying the loan. This requirement puts you at a disadvantage when you’re setting up. Without any experience or books to show, a personal loan maybe the only way to go.

When you have no collateral

Business loans are mostly offered as secured loans. This means that collateral is required before approval. When starting a business you probably have no asset that can be tied to the loan or may not want to risk other existing assets due to the risk associated with businesses.  In such a scenario, a personal loan will do since it requires no collateral.

When the loan is within personal credit limit

Business loans attract higher interest rates than personal credit. However, personal credit comes with a lower limit compared to that of a business. The question you should ask yourself is; how much do you need and what will it cost you?

When the amount you need can be covered by personal credit, then go for it. You will avoid paying heftier interest that could run into thousands of dollar if you were to take a business loan.

When you don’t have a business plan

Another requirement for a business loan is an elaborate business plan. That’s easier said than done. The passion and hard work that you are ready to put into your venture cannot be captured on paper. What lenders want to see is an actionable plan that shows how capital will be utilized and the expected returns; to the last dollar!

In addition to this, lenders set stringent measures on how a business loan is to be utilized. Instead of allowing these requirements and terms to curtail your venture, you can tap into your personal credit as you get a feel of the business environment.

That said,

Personal credit might be cheaper and a good alternative to a business loan, but there are a few things to consider;

The major drive of setting up of a business is to generate profit. You inject part of the returns back into the business, and with time it grows into greater heights. If successful; what started out as a small business will one day grow into a huge venture.

To achieve that major boost, you may find yourself in need of a sizable amount. When self-funding can’t cover this, you may have to turn to lenders for a business loan.

Lenders will be more willing to finance your business if they have taken part in its growth. The point here is that, your bank needs to recognize your business as separate entity.

This kind of recognition is only possible if you take and manage business loans with them. Not only will this push your loan applications to the top of the pile, but you will get financial advice from the bank.

Final Take

Using personal credit for business finances is wise if it makes business sense to your specific venture. If it comes down to letting your business go under or abandoning your dream business for lack of financing, you have a winner. However, you should also be aware that personal credit does not elevate your business credit, something which may come in handy for future financial needs.

Source: creditabsolute.com

Which Bills to Pay Off First (or Cancel) When Money Runs Tight

Whether it’s from job loss due to a recession, a drop in income, or an unexpected major expense, there may come a time when you struggle to pay your bills. What can you do when your income and expenses don’t match up?

It’s essential you prioritize your bill payments and what you owe, paying the most important bills first.

Bills to Prioritize When You’re Low on Money

The most important bills are those that cover the necessities: shelter, food, water, and heat, for example.

The next most important are bills that cover things that make it possible for you to get where you need to go, such as your vehicle expenses.

Last on the list are bills that can ding your credit history, but not much else, if you fall behind on them.

Although you can make some adjustments to the order you pay bills based on your circumstances, it’s usually best to focus on paying your housing bills first, then paying what you can with the money you have remaining.

1. Mortgage or Rent

If you fall behind on mortgage payments, you risk having the lender foreclose on your home. If you fall behind on rent, your landlord can evict you.

Even though the foreclosure or eviction process can take months, it’s not something you want to risk happening. Keeping up with your housing payments is a must if you want to stay in your home.

When money is really tight and you’re not sure you can pull together enough to make a payment one month, the best thing to do is talk to your landlord or lender.

Many mortgage lenders have programs in place to help homeowners who are facing financial hardship. Your lender can review your options, such as forbearance or loan modification, with you.

During forbearance, you stop making payments on your loan, but interest continues to accrue. If a lender agrees to modify your loan, they adjust your interest rate or otherwise make changes to lower your monthly payment.

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also has programs available to homeowners struggling with their mortgage payments. You can contact HUD to connect with an approved counseling agency. The counselor can work with you to create a plan to help you avoid foreclosure.

If you’re a renter, talk to your landlord as soon as you know you’ll have difficulty paying rent. Explain the situation to them in detail, including whether you think you’ll be late with payment, won’t be able to pay all your monthly rent, or won’t be able to pay at all.

Many landlords are willing to work with you to come up with a solution. You can help the situation by suggesting solutions.

For example, if you’re going to pay late, tell the landlord when you plan to make the payment. If you can’t pay the full amount this month, tell the landlord how you’ll make up the difference. For example, you can add an extra $100 or so to subsequent payments until you pay off the balance.

If you’re renting and your landlord can’t or won’t be flexible about payments, you might have more wiggle room than a homeowner.

Depending on how much time you have left on the lease, you can simply wait it out, then look for a less expensive place to live. Another option is to try to find someone to take over your lease so you can move somewhere that costs less.

2. Utilities

After your mortgage or rent payment, the next most important bills are your utility bills: gas, water and sewage, and electricity. Although some people count TV and the Internet as utilities, those services aren’t essential for everyone.

Fortunately, many programs exist to help people who need emergency financial assistance paying bills. The first place to look is your local utility provider. Many utility companies have programs to help people pay their bills.

Another option is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a federally funded program that provides financial assistance to help people pay energy bills. LIHEAP has specific income requirements and is grant-funded, meaning only a set amount of money is available each year.

If you think you qualify for LIHEAP, the sooner you apply for it, the better your chances of receiving aid.

3. Insurance Premiums

Having insurance is always a good idea, as it provides financial protection against the worst things life can throw your way, such as illness, fire, or accidents. Paying your insurance premiums even when money is tight is a smart move. Without insurance, medical bills can easily add up.

If you’re struggling to afford your premiums, you do have some options, particularly when it comes to health insurance.

If you purchased a plan from the Healthcare.gov marketplace, you qualify for a special enrollment period if you’ve recently lost your job and associated coverage, if you’ve had a change in income, if you’ve gotten divorced, and for a few other reasons.

During the special enrollment period, you can apply for Medicaid or CHIP if your income is below the threshold or a credit on your insurance premiums based on your income. Doing so can lower the cost of your health insurance considerably.

4. Food & Household Necessities

Food, soap, and paper products are up there with shelter, heat, and hot water on the list of essentials.

Luckily, you have more wiggle room when it comes to adapting your food and household supply costs compared to your mortgage or rent payments and utility bills.

When money’s tight, there are many ways you can trim your food and supplies bill:

  • Limit Shopping Trips. Plan your meals for the week, make a list of the ingredients you need, and go to the store once. The more you go to the store, the more likely you are to buy things you don’t need.
  • Buy Store-Brand Items. Store-brand products usually taste the same as or similar to their brand-name counterparts, but they cost a lot less. If you typically purchase branded foods and supplies, try switching to the store brand. It’s likely the only place you’ll notice a difference is in your wallet.
  • Limit Packaged Products. Packaged foods, such as grated cheese, bagged salads, and prechopped vegetables are convenient, but that convenience comes at a cost. You can save a lot if you buy whole, unprocessed foods and prepare them at home.
  • Skip Bottled Water. If you live in the U.S., it’s highly likely your tap water is safe to drink. According to the CDC, the U.S.’s water supply is among the safest in the world. Bottled water is expensive and terrible for the environment and is often little more than repackaged municipal water.
  • Buy In-Season Produce. Pay attention to seasons when shopping for fresh produce. Fruits like strawberries and blueberries are usually in season and inexpensive during the summer but cost more in the winter. You can cut your grocery costs if you buy what’s in season.
  • Grow Your Own. Another way to cut your food bill is to grow your own fruits and vegetables. Herbs and green vegetables are usually the most cost-effective edible plants to grow, as you can get an entire plant for the price of a handful of herbs or greens at the grocery store. You don’t need a ton of outdoor space to start a garden. You can grow plants in containers on a small balcony or patio.
  • Use Your Freezer. Frozen vegetables and fruit often cost less than fresh, so it pays to purchase those when money is tight. You can also prep double batches of meals to freeze for later. That way, if you run out of money before the end of the month, you have a supply of ready-to-eat meals waiting for you.

Note too that depending on your income, you can qualify for financial assistance with groceries. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka food stamps, helps to cover the cost of groceries for people with income below certain thresholds.

Pro tip: Make sure you’re saving as much money as possible on your grocery trip. Apps like Fetch Rewards and Ibotta allow you to save money on purchases by simply scanning and uploading your receipts.

5. Car Loan & Other Expenses

Your car gets you to and from work and other important places, such as your kids’ school, the grocery store, and the doctor. If you have a monthly car payment, it’s crucial to find a way to pay it.

Just as you can call your mortgage company to work out a deal, you can call the lender behind your car loan to see if you can come to an agreement. Like mortgage companies, these lenders can also offer you loan modifications, refinancing, or forbearance.

Loan modification or refinance can lower the amount of your monthly payments, making it easier for you to afford the car. Forbearance means you don’t make payments for a set period.

Another option is to sell your current vehicle, use the proceeds to pay off the loan, then purchase a less expensive model. If you decide to sell, look for a replacement car that has a low cost of ownership to keep your expenses low. Some vehicles are more reliable than others, meaning you don’t have to worry about expensive repair or maintenance bills.

6. Unsecured Debts

Although you should make every effort to repay your debts, when money is tight, unsecured debt, such as credit card debt and personal loans, should move to the back burner. While these debts typically have the highest interest rates, they also have the lowest impact on your daily life.

You don’t go hungry if you miss a credit card payment, nor can your credit card company take your home or car if you pay late.

That said, it’s still best to pay what you can toward unsecured debts, such as the minimum due on a credit card. If even that is too much for you right now, contact the card company or lender. Sometimes, credit card companies are willing to work with you to create a debt repayment plan or let you temporarily pause payments.

7. Student Loans

While you should make every effort to pay your student loans when money’s tight, the loans often have the most flexibility when it comes to repayment, particularly federal loans.

If you have federal student loans and you’re struggling to keep up with payments, you have multiple options. You can request a deferment or forbearance from your loan servicer, or you can switch to an income-driven repayment plan, which adjusts the amount you pay each month based on your income.

The situation with private student loans is a bit different, as they don’t have the same protections as the federal student loan program.

If you’re having trouble affording private student loan payments, your best option is to contact the lender to see if it offers forbearance, repayment plans, or loan modification.


What to Cancel When Money Is Tight

While some monthly bills are essential, others are considerably less so. Budgeting often involves deciding what you need to spend money on and what you can live without.

When it’s a struggle to make ends meet, here’s what you can consider cutting:

Subscription Services

Netflix, print or digital newspapers, and meal kits are all things that can go. In many cases, you can find free alternatives to the subscriptions you were paying for. For example, some local libraries give you access to streaming movies and local or national newspapers for free.

Make sure you don’t miss any subscriptions that you might have forgotten about. Services like Truebill will find subscriptions and either cancel them or negotiate lower rates for you.

Cable and Internet Service

You may not want to disconnect your Internet completely, but see if you can switch to a slower, less expensive plan.

If you have data on your phone, some providers, like Xfinity Mobile, let you use your phone as a hotspot to get online. In this case, you wouldn’t need a separate home Internet plan.

Phone Service

While you do need your phone to stay connected, you most likely don’t need both a landline and a cellphone. You probably don’t need the most expensive cellphone plan, either.

Shop around with companies like Mint Mobile or Ting to see if you can get a better deal.

Gym Memberships and Wellness Services

Maintaining your well-being is important, especially when money is tight. But if you’re worried about having enough money to pay your most important bills, you shouldn’t have to worry about paying for a monthly gym membership or studio pass.

There are plenty of ways to work out for free from the comfort of your home. For example, you can find workouts available for free on YouTube.


Final Word

When money is tight, it’s vital you focus on paying for the things that can help you sustain your life and well-being, such as food and shelter, when times are tight.

While a missed payment can affect your credit history, in desperate situations, your health and safety are more important than your credit score.

Along with prioritizing your monthly bills, talk to your lenders and service providers. Many companies have programs in place to keep you from sinking deeper into debt and to help you avoid repossession of your home or vehicle. Keep the lines of communication open, and remember you’ll get through it.

Source: moneycrashers.com