Now is time to bulk up sav­ings

Fi­nan­cial house should be put in or­der as the econ­omy rises

Houston Chronicle - - DAILY DIGITAL - Chris.tom­lin­son@chron.com

Texas’ econ­omy is pick­ing up, na­tional un­em­ploy­ment is low and the fi­nan­cial mar­kets are set­ting records. Now is the time to get your fi­nan­cial house in or­der.

Low en­ergy prices have hurt Texas and Hous­ton for two years, slow­ing em­ploy­ment growth and elim­i­nat­ing thou­sands of well-pay­ing jobs. But oil prices are ris­ing again, and Hous­ton’s eco­nomic in­di­ca­tors are cau­tiously op­ti­mistic. The worst for the en­ergy in­dus­try could be over. Use the up­swing to get your fi­nances straight, es­pe­cially if you are one of the 6 in 10 Amer­i­cans who don’t have the where­withal to han­dle a $500 car re­pair or a $1,000 emer­gency room visit, ac­cord­ing to Bankrate.com.

“If you have a car, a house or apart­ment, a pet, or a kid — if you’re a mem­ber of the hu­man race — some­thing that costs money is bound to go wrong,” said Jill Corn­field, a Bankrate.com an­a­lyst.

Too many peo­ple think get­ting a new job, or a raise or sim­ply avoid­ing dis­as­ter is a time to cel­e­brate by open­ing their wal­lets. But no, that’s the time to pay off debts, cre­ate an emergnecy fund and max­i­mize tax-free re­tire­ment sav­ings.

If you work in a cycli­cal in­dus­try, such as oil and nat­u­ral gas, this is es­pe­cially true. Too many Tex­ans, though, don’t get it, which is why we rank in the bot­tom 40 per­cent of states when it comes to be­ing fi­nan­cially pre­pared, ac­cord­ing to statis­tics gath­ered by Quicken, the fi­nan­cial soft­ware com­pany.

There are gen­er­a­tional dif­fer­ences, though.

Hand it to Mil­len­ni­als, who came of age dur­ing the Great Re­ces­sion. They’ve got the old fash­ioned val­ues of their great-grand­par­ents, who grew up dur­ing the Great De­pres­sion. More than 45 per­cent say they are pre­pared to tap sav­ings to cover the cost of an un­ex­pected ex­pense. They don’t like credit cards, or the debt that comes with them.

Ev­ery econ­omy and ev­ery life is cycli­cal, with good times and bad times. Re­mem­ber the good to get through the bad, and use the good to pre­pare for the in­evitable.

CHRIS TOM­LIN­SON

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