The Biggest Money Mistakes People Make in a Recession

During an economic recession, it’s easy to make mistakes when it comes to your finances and managing your money. Many people are facing decisions and situations that they have never had to deal with before. They need help navigating this new territory and recognizing their mistakes. We read a Wall Street Journal article discussing the biggest money mistakes people tend to make during an economic downturn and we want to bring light to a few of them and talk about ways to avoid them.

As you’ll see, the mistakes cover a wide array of practices and situations and not everyone has the luxury of making some of these mistakes. Hopefully, being aware of these errors will make you think as you find your path through the coming months. And ideally, avoiding any of these mistakes will make your economic troubles a little less painful and the eventual recovery a little more robust.

Refusing to Tap the Emergency Fund

Some people experiencing economic hardship choose to live uncomfortably rather than access their savings. This happens when their saver’s mentality—the same one that helped in building an emergency fund—makes the emergency fund seem sacred and unavailable for use. A better framework for thinking about the use of such funds is viewing it as a reward for disciplined saving in good times. Isn’t this why you had the emergency fund in the first place?

No Re-Entry Plan

Investors often sell out of equities during a downturn without a plan of when to buy back in. It’s impossible to tell when exactly the markets are going to recover—witness the rapid bull market since late March—but you need a plan. While everyone’s situation is different, a phased approach could be the way to go, slowly moving back into equities.

Ignoring Your Credit Score

One mistake we make during a downturn is not paying enough attention to our credit score. But this is what affects the interest rate we get on our mortgage and credit cards, as well as whether we’ll be able to get insurance or even rent an apartment. So it is important, even during difficult times, to try to pay bills on time, not max out on credit cards, not open several new credit accounts in a short period of time, and keep a good financial history as much as possible.

No Retirement Funding

During an economic downturn, people often get scared and halt contributions to their 401(k) and/or individual retirement accounts. It’s still important to maintain your pace on contributions and to not jump the gun on withdrawals. You should continue to look at the big picture and avoid taking a loan from your retirement. People often miss the opportunity of buying low and accumulating more shares – a recession is actually a great time to actively look for bargains in the market. Make sure to keep your risk capacity in sight and gauge your cash needs wisely in times like these.

Not Talking About Money

With the pandemic forcing millions of people world-wide into financial distress, a natural response may be to avoid conversations about money at all costs. However, our research suggests that discussing money with your partner in hard times can help your relationship and finances if you approach these discussions the right way.

As mentioned above, an economic recession is the perfect opportunity to take a step back and discuss and organize your finances. Saving for the future, talking to someone about your investments, and organizing your portfolio are all smart moves when setting yourself up for financial success and the ability to navigate an economic recession. If you have any questions or want to talk about your personal finances, please reach out to us at [email protected]

Related: How The Pandemic Has Upended The Financial Lives Of Average Americans