AUGUSTA, Maine — As the financial editor of the “Today” show, Jean Chatzky has been talking to people for years about how to handle their money better. Part of what she preaches is the importance of keeping a cool head, which was a lot easier to do a few weeks ago when the stock market was hitting new highs and the economy was sailing along on calm seas. Now those seas have turned mountainous, and people are losing their jobs and watching their 401Ks plummet in value.
So, what advice does Chatzky have to offer right now? “Don’t panic,” she says, “although that’s really hard in the face of chaos.”
Riding out whiplash-inducing swings in the financial markets is never fun, but it does provide the opportunity to think hard about when you’re going to need some of the money you’ve saved. Consider, for instance, money that you might need next year. “It doesn’t belong in the market today,” Chatzky says. “It didn’t belong in the market before the markets cratered.” Put it somewhere safe—say, in a money market account or a plain vanilla savings account at your bank or credit union.
The rules are different if you’re in your thirties or forties and rattled by how much your retirement accounts have shrunk. “Money that is for five years from now, ten years from now, twenty years from now, that’s the money that we have to let grow,” she says. It should stay invested.
What if you need some help figuring out when you’ll need some of the money you’re putting aside? Chatzky says you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for guidance. “I get asked a lot of times if financial advisors are only for the very wealthy,” she says. “Getting financial advice is available to the masses, and you should absolutely reach out and get advice if you feel you need it, particularly if you are transitioning into a new part of life, such as retirement.”
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