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5 Essential Money Moves for Economic Uncertainty


5 Essential Money Moves for Economic Uncertainty by Meg K Wheeler for SOULACY Magazine


There’s a lot going on in the world right now. Between a looming economic crisis, the fall of abortion healthcare protections, and the devastating effects of the climate crisis that are being felt daily with wildfires, heat waves and increases in flooding, it can feel like the world is on fire (and in some places, it literally is).


While your attention may be more focused on navigating today’s challenges, it’s critically important to turn some of that focus towards your money and the moves you should be making in the midst of all this turmoil.


Money Move #1: Solidify Your Income


When there’s a lot of external factors causing additional stress, it’s helpful to know that you’re at least covered when it comes to your basic financial necessities - so that you don’t have to worry about housing, food, or medical care. 


If you’re not earning enough each month to cover those basics, make this your primary focus. Do you need to look for a higher paying job or ask for that long-deserved raise? Should you raise your prices in your business or promote a product or service that’s particularly popular? 


As we’re not yet in an economic recession and demand for workers is still high, now is the time to consider making a move or firming up your current position if it makes sense to do so. 


Bottom line - figure out how you can stabilize the money coming in so that you don’t need to worry about how those bills get paid. And even if you can’t find a solution that is long-term or solves the problem completely, consider every step in the right direction progress and build on it over time. 


Money Move #2: Reconsider Your Expenses


Any time I see this suggestion in an article, I roll my eyes, so know that if you’re doing that now, I’m right there with you. Telling people, especially marginalized groups, to cut their expenses has been a weapon used in the war against equity for too long to avoid any spotlight on the real culprit. 


While cutting your expenses may be challenging and may not make a drastic difference, it is an action that can have an immediate effect and help you feel like you’re doing something. Making smarter moves with how you spend your money is a great way to evaluate if you’re spending it in ways that really bring you joy and give you an opportunity to put it to other, better uses. 


For me, an easy move I made recently was to eat out less. I realized that what I loved wasn’t the expensive food but spending time with my friends and being outdoors (I’m a sucker for a good outdoor patio). The solution? Inviting friends over for drinks and snacks in my backyard and saving the money I would have spent in a high-yield savings account. 


Money Move #3: Give Yourself An Out


As we move into even more uncertain times, the more we have access to funds and credit, the easier it will be to move along with the unpredictable. Therefore, spend some time now evaluating your current available funds (everything from emergency savings to retirement accounts) and your current available credit. 


Do you have 3 months of expenses saved in an emergency fund? (Don’t feel ashamed - most of us don’t). Are you maxing out your retirement accounts? (Again… most of us aren’t). Do you have at least 1 or 2 lines of credit you could rely on (only if absolutely necessary) should shit hit the fan. (Disclaimer: I am very cautious about using debt to bail out of an uncertain financial mess - but sometimes it can buy you time and give you flexibility that makes it easier to survive a crisis). 


Empower your finances for resilience in turbulent times. Make smart money moves to navigate uncertainty with confidence.

For many of us, having extra funds or access to credit is a pipe dream. Given the many barriers to financial stability in our society, having the funds to save or the good credit history to qualify for a credit card just isn’t an option. So instead of feeling overwhelmed by what isn’t there, focus on where you can make progress. Can you save even a few dollars every month? Can you get a secured credit card and start to rebuild your credit? Choose one baby step and take it.


Money Move #4: Find the Opportunities


If you’re in a position with some extra cash, this can actually be a great time to invest in yourself, your future and your community. With the stock market at stress-inducing lows, there’s an opportunity to buy in now before it rebounds. The same goes for your retirement funds - if you qualify for tax breaks, contribute to those funds and buy in at lower prices so that you can benefit from the increases when the market restabilizes. 


Want to support your community with your money? Contribute to political candidates, especially newcomers and those from underrepresented constituencies, who are fighting for the most pressing issues. Especially given the political climate, these candidates are less likely to raise the funds they need, meaning we’ll end up with elected officials who may further roll back our rights and protections. Donate to abortion funds, or other organizations working on the front lines of the causes you care about, because supporting people who need reproductive healthcare puts more money back into our communities and saves lives. 


While it may feel like now is the time to pull back, if you have made all the right money moves (have emergency savings, fully fund your retirement account, have stable income), don’t shy away from reinvesting in yourself and your community when they need you the most.


Money Move #5: Don’t Stop Tracking


When everything feels like too much, it’s tempting to stop doing the mundane things - like tracking your money - but those are the things that are more important now than ever. With so much at stake, knowing exactly where your money is coming from and going to is critical, and if you lose sight of that, you won’t have the information you need to make the best decisions possible. 


Whether it’s on the personal side or in your business, make sure you have the following in place before things get even more dire:


  • A Good Bank Account: You should have a bank account set up that offers you online access, integrates with your personal finance or business accounting software, and is easily accessible in case you need to get to your money quickly. If you’re looking to switch banks, consider moving away from the bigger banks and towards those more focused on social and environmental issues, like Amalgamated Bank.

  • Tracking Software: You can’t know where your money is going if you have no way to track it, so invest your time into setting up a good tracking system. Tools like Mint or You Need a Budget can be helpful on the personal side, and I’m a huge fan of Wave Apps for your business accounting. 

  • Money Dates (or Money Meetings as we call them in my community!): Whatever you call them, set a regular time when you review your money on both the business and personal side. And since this doesn’t always feel like fun, build in some incentives. I like to treat myself to takeout from my favorite restaurant and a nice bottle of wine before settling in to crunch those numbers.


Whether you focus on all five money moves or just start with one, making your finances a priority right now is a key badass move that everyone can do. If the money stuff feels overwhelming, start small and find a community (like mine!) where you can get support. We all have our own baggage (and sometimes trauma) around money and my community is proof that when we tackle it together, we all rise.



Article was originally published in the 2023 MONEY Special Edition under the title, Money Moves to Make When the World Is On Fire


 

TLDR: In a world facing economic crises and environmental challenges, this article outlines five crucial money moves to ensure financial stability and resilience. From solidifying your income to tracking your finances, learn how to navigate financial uncertainty with confidence.

 

Meg is the Founder of The Equitable Money Project, which offers financial education and done-for-you tax preparation, bookkeeping and CFO services to primarily marginalized business owners. She is a licensed CPA and financial literacy educator with a focus on helping online educators, service providers and small business owners set up, manage and master the financial aspects of their businesses. You can access tons of free business money resources by joining the Biz Money Library at equitablemoneyproject.com/free

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