Category Archives: Money Management

How to Negotiate Your Rent

There’s this super cute meme that makes rounds every once in a while.

It has a different woman looking all tough in the background every time it makes an appearance, but it has the same words almost verbatim every time:

You’re asking if I can negotiate my fees? Yeah, sure, honey, let me just go see if my landlord will negotiate my rent.

I get the point – on a month-to-month basis in the middle of a twelve-month contract, you can’t negotiate the rent with your landlord. And you need to pay your bills so you shouldn’t give discounts to everyone who asks for them when you’re a service-based business.

BUT

I always walk away from that meme asking myself,

How the hell do people not know they can negotiate their rent?

Because here’s the thing: Rent is totally negotiable.

You just have to know when and how to do it.

Know Your Landlord

The type of landlord you have determines what kind of negotiations you can expect to be successful. Whether you’re negotiating one-on-one with a landlord who owns a couple properties or with a large complex, there are ways to pursue the biggest bang for your buck through negotiation.

You can usually negotiate directly with individual landlords or property managers.

Negotiating your rent is going to be easiest with an individual landlord. Though you may also have success with a property manager who takes care of the rental for an individual landlord.

In these negotiations, you’re most likely to be able to reduce the dollars you pay in rent every month.

You can ask for discounts and insights from office staff at larger rental complexes.

If you are dealing with a landlord at a larger rental complex, it doesn’t hurt to try to negotiate the actual rent. But you are less likely to have success.

Instead, talk to someone in the main office. See if there are any discounts available. For example, a certain credit score might get your security deposit reduced. If you move in during a specific month you might get your first month for free. If you have a larger blended family and they want you in the door, maybe you could get more guests added to your pool pass.

You’re more likely to be able to negotiate perks and amenities with larger complexes than the actual rent. It’s going to be more about making friends at the front office and getting them to let you in on the discounts and hacks that already exist within the system they have established for their new tenants.

By all means attempt to respectfully negotiate rent. Especially if you’re negotiating at your lease renewal. But do expect a lower ratio of success than if you try to negotiate monthly payments with an individual landlord.

Know What You Can Afford

Before you go into negotiations, you need to know how much you can afford. Traditionally, it is recommended that your rent and housing expenses take up no more than 25%-30% of your monthly budget.

However, given the housing crisis which continues to afflict this country and the stagnation of wages in America over the past several decades, there’s rarely a way for the average American household to stay within the 25%-30% range and still have safe and healthy housing – especially in urban areas.

Because traditional advice is so broken and incongruent with our lived realities, you’re going to have to figure out what you can afford on your own. If you don’t yet have a budget, you can get a free month of budgeting software for an assist.

You’re probably going to have a hard time sticking within the 25%-30% rule, but you do need to figure out the absolute max you can afford to pay every month and still keep on top of your other bills.

You need this number because when you begin rent negotiations, you need to know where your ceiling is.

When you find it, you’ll need to walk away.

Know What You Want

What you can afford and what you want will be two different things. You want to pay less than you can afford, because that gives you more wiggle room in your budget. Believe it or not, this can actually make you a better tenant because you won’t be stressing as hard about making rent every month. If you manage your money right, it can make you more financially stable.

Maybe you can afford to pay $50 less per month than the asking price, but ideally you’d want to pay $100 less per month. If this is the case, you’d want to ask for more than $100 off per month as you start the negotiations, then work your way to your goal. Maybe you can afford $50 less per month, but they offer you $75 because you started with the goal of $100.

If the landlord refuses to take at least $50 off per month by the end of your negotiations, you can’t move in. Full-stop. You can’t afford it, and if you pretend you can, it’s not going to end well for you or the landlord.

Know why the landlord should negotiate with you.

You do need some leverage in order to be successful in negotiations. Here are some things that will make it easier to successfully negotiate your rent:

  • Are you a good tenant? If you are negotiating with a new landlord, your credit score or history may be important. Landlords want to see you regularly pay the bills on time – including your rent. If you have recommendations from past landlords, this can help you, too.
  • Do you have somewhere else to go? If this is the apartment that’s going to keep you from being homeless, you inherently have less room to negotiate. You can still delicately try, but the inability to walk away means the power dynamics are not in your favor.
  • Time of year. It’s easier to find tenants in the summer. Tenants negotiating winter leases have more leverage. Usually a landlord would rather have someone in the property paying a little less than their asking price every month than have the property sit empty for months at a time.
  • State laws. State laws can affect negotiations, too. For example, if you’re moving in March, but are trying to get a lower rate on your rent, you may offer to extend your lease to 15 months instead of 12 so that your renewal will be in the more desirable summer months for your landlord. However, maximum lease length varies depending on your state’s laws.

Don’t forget the amenities!

If you can’t get the landlord to come down on rent, see if you can negotiate additional amenities. Here are some of the top areas to consider for negotiation:

  • Pet policies. If the property is pet-friendly but you don’t have a pet, see if you can get a discount on your security deposit. Your risk for damage is lower than what they’ve built into their pricing structure, and they may be willing to work with you.
  • Laundry credit. If you’re running on coin-op laundry offered by the landlord, see if you can negotiate a laundry credit into your contract.
  • Storage. If extra storage is a need, can you secure an extra or larger storage unit than what they’re already offering with the property?
  • Parking. You may be able to negotiate any parking fees that are associated with the property. Even if one free spot comes with the property, is there a way to get an additional pass for guests?
  • Upgrades. In larger complexes, renovations usually happen in phases. If the unit you’re looking at isn’t up to the same standards as others going for the same price, you may be able to negotiate lower monthly rent payments or demand those upgrades are made to your apartment before you move in.

Know When You’ll Walk Away

Before you start negotiations, you need to know when you’ll walk away. If you can only afford the rent with a $50/month deduction, be prepared to walk away if they come at you with a rent deduction of only $25/month.

If you cannot walk away, that’s good information to know walking into negotiations, too. It gives you a lot less leverage. But lying to yourself about the power dynamics is not going to make the situation better.

Know When to Make Your Ask

Calling up your landlord to negotiate rent when you’re already under contract is not going to work.

There are two times when you should consider negotiating your rent, though: Before you move in and when your lease expires.

Before you move in.

This is when you have the most leverage – depending on how many other people are showing serious interest in the property.

Before you move in, you’re going to have the most success negotiating a deduction in rent – especially with individual landlords. This is also the time when you’ll be able to negotiate the most amenities and perks into your contract.

This initial contract is likely to be the best deal you get from your landlord. Everything else moving forward will be negotiated with it in mind.

When your lease expires.

If you are a good tenant who has had few to zero complaints and has made on-time rent payments every month, you will have leverage when your lease expires. The negotiations will likely happen in the months before the expiration as your landlord either offers you a lease for the upcoming year – or doesn’t.

If they do and the terms are the same, you might not want to nickel-and-dime them to pay less.

Right or wrong, there’s a general expectation that property values go up over time – especially as safe and healthy housing becomes a scarcer resource. There’s also a general expectation that the landlord will raise the rent, even if the property value and/or taxes haven’t actually increased.

I know.

Fun.

But it’s also the reality we live in.

If your landlord does up the rent or the cost of other amenities like laundry, tenants with a good history may want to negotiate.

Bear in mind that you have a little less leverage than when you moved in. Moving takes kinetic energy, and moving is the only real bargaining chip you have to force the landlord’s hand. If you threaten to walk away at the rent increase, you have to be prepared to actually do it.

Consider what’s currently on the market before you walk away.

You’ll also want to bear in mind what’s currently available on the market. I once lived in an apartment for almost a decade. By the time I moved out, rent had exploded in the market around me, almost doubling. I chose to stay in the same property for many years even though the rent nudged up higher as time went on.

Not because I was completely happy.

But because I could no longer afford to move and stay in the same area of the city where my family had built a life.

However, if you are willing and able to move at the expiration of your lease, you do have a lot of power. A good tenant can be hard to find, and the prospect of not finding any tenant can be scary for a landlord. In these situations, you may be able to negotiate rent increases to a minimum, especially if you’re already paying close to market value.

And remember: After you’ve made a deal, make sure to get every last thing in writing.

Contextualizing Trauma in Personal Finance Content

Hi, I love you all and hope you are holding up okay. Just a note before today’s post to remind you that I’m not a psychologist, psychiatrist or any other type of mental health professional. Also, a trigger warning that this post deals with themes that are congruent with other types of trauma outside of or concurrent with the effects of the current pandemic.

We are all grappling with what’s happening around us. It’s been traumatic. While it’s definitely been harder for some more than others, this pandemic is something that has affected us all.

I really liked this analogy from Brittany Packnett Cunningham, that we’re all in the same storm, but we are NOT all in the same boat.

This type of trauma is difficult. It’s persistent. Inescapable. You learn to live in it without fully getting the chance to step out of it and recover.

In the midst of all this, we’re all more irritable. Our buttons are easier to push than ever, with stress maxing out our tolerance for bullshit.

In the midst of all this trauma, I want to contextualize the personal economic discussions you’re sure to see flying around the web right now, especially on personal blogs like this one.

These are my interpretations of what I see happening around me in my community — and honestly within my own content. My interpretation may differ from your own, and I welcome respectful discussion in the comments.

Responses to Trauma

There are three basic responses to trauma with which I’m familiar enough to reference. None of these responses are right or wrong. They’re defense mechanisms your body is using to try to survive. To get through to that next moment when danger is no longer imminent.

Fight

One response to trauma is to try to fight your way out.

This might manifest in your personal finances with a newfound hyper-vigilance over your budgeting spreadsheet.

It might make you side hustle super hard.

You might also find yourself fighting for the health and safety of those around you above economic impact.

Whether that’s begging your mom not to go to work or working on a larger scale to assist those most exposed to the virus get the equipment, care or social programming they need.

Because this economic hardship and all the trauma that comes along with it is likely to last for a long time — though I do not yet believe it will last forever — a sustained fight response is also likely to lead to burn out. Maybe even crash-and-burn-style burnout.

Flight

If your response is flight, right now things are complicated.

If you’ve been on social media lately, you’ve seen that vlogger who tried to escape to Hawaii. And another blogger who packed her family in an RV to escape the NYC area.

Both situations were met with much ridicule, and understandably so. No links because this is not about shaming these people. Their responses are anecdotally relevant here, though.

In normal times, flight is an okay thing to do. These are not normal times. Exercising flight in traditional ways can be dangerous to the health of others around you, if not to your own.

Diet & Exercise are just like Personal Finance!

Exercising as a way to express flight is a thing — especially right now as we’re metaphorically running from a temporally inescapable problem.

So if you’re really annoyed by everyone pretending they’re a marathon runner or feel like simply scrolling through your feed right now is akin to ritual shaming, know that it’s not about you.

Also, remember you got that mute button. 😉

A lot of people are dealing with the stress this way. It’s normal. For some people, it’s even super healthy.

You’re probably going to see a lot of blog posts about how diet and exercise are just like personal finance.

If it doesn’t resonate with you, that’s okay. You can go read something else, perhaps even noting that this content may be helping others who are dealing with all this trauma in a different way than you are.

If you’re creating this content, it would also be cool if you could be conscientious that flight is not the only way of dealing with all the stress. That you can take things too far with diet and exercise. And that if someone comes out of this thing without a six-pack or $100k net worth, it definitely doesn’t make them an inferior human being.

But like also don’t touch that 401(k).

The market looks scary right now.

But rocky times in the economy should already be accounted for your long-term plan. Pulling out of the market feels like the right thing to do thanks to the flight response, but depending on how you’ve invested, it’s likely to be detrimental to your own long-term financial goals.

Even if you’re not able to contribute to your retirement account, try to do everything you can to avoid touching your retirement savings.

Know that in so many cases, even in bankruptcy, creditors cannot touch most tax-advantaged retirement account savings.

That being said, the complications of living with a bankruptcy on your record can be dire in the best of times. Make the best decisions you can based on your own, individual circumstances. You may even be able to consult with a pro bono lawyer to get personalized legal guidance when considering bankruptcy vs. pulling from your retirement savings.

Also beware long-term that those who have endured trauma tend to be unnecessarily and sometimes detrimentally conservative with their investments.

Freeze

Freezing is another perfectly valid response to stress. Traditionally, your body might shut down or shield you from pain responses to help you survive the initial impact of physical trauma. You might feel the need to cut yourself off from others virtually, even when we are separated physically already.

In response to economic trauma, you might need this time to rest. To not hustle super hard. To gather your energy for what comes next. Emotionally recover from all the freedom and personal power you have lost in the past month.

That’s okay, too. Just know it’s going to be helpful long-term to generally keep on top of your finances as much as possible, even if you can’t give them the boost they may need right now. None of this is your fault.

There are no right or wrong reactions.

In response to trauma, there are no right or wrong reactions as far as which response manifests. I think as we each pull through this thing in our own way, we need to remember that we’re all going to respond differently.

Because this experience is sustained, we might even cycle through different reactions. That’s actually supposed to be healthier than habituating one of them, even though habituation is likely to happen in cases of sustained trauma.

That means not every article is going to speak to our individual experience. That’s okay. In fact, that same article that doesn’t speak to you today could end up being really motivating or reassuring a few weeks or even days down the line.

Take as little offense as possible if you’re not reacting the way a certain writer proposes you should be. It’s just going to add to your stress. In many cases, it’s an unnecessary burden in this time of sheer overwhelm.

If you’re creating content, it’s helpful to remember this, too. To not insult those who are dealing with the stress differently in any given moment in an attempt to inspire.

Because while there’s not one, right reaction to the trauma we’ve all experienced, we also need to remember that there are multiple ways of dealing with this experience.

Just because we haven’t experienced a reaction personally doesn’t mean it’s not valuable.

And just because we have experienced a reaction personally doesn’t mean it’s superior to the response of others.

Harnessing our reactions for the better.

If you find yourself in fight mode, by all means use that energy to send those personal finances into to hyperdrive. That’s how this blog was born.

It’s also why I can tell you first-hand that when you’re in fight mode, the risk of burnout is real. Be cognizant of it, and try real hard to do all that mindfulness stuff to bring yourself back to center. Force yourself to take breaks, even if they initially feel uncomfortable.

If you find yourself in flight mode, be cognizant that the very natural reaction to want to pull out of all financial institutions in a moment like this is real.

But it’s against all traditional financial advice, even and perhaps especially the stuff written for turbulent times like these.

If you find yourself frozen, that’s okay, too. You’re going to have more energy after everyone else has jogged and side hustled their way through this first period of the downturn. Take care of your mental health first and foremost.

If you really just can’t get going again, seek help via a telehealth service like www.betterhelp.com. As much as stalling out is sometimes the only thing you can do, your bills don’t see things the same way I do.

There are programs out there to help right now. The first Pennsylvanian unemployment check with that $600/week boost just went out. Some assistance is coming, even if we’re slow to see the money manifest in our pocketbooks.

No matter what your response, before your money, you want to address your mental health. Just because you’re not frozen doesn’t mean it’s not a problem.

Support Autistic Artists

In honor of Autism Acceptance Month, Femme Frugality will be hosting a series of Wednesday articles that focus on the financial challenges and triumphs those on the spectrum face and achieve.

Today, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to #StandWithSmall business owners, I wanted to bring back this post. All of the featured pieces sold, so the features have been updated to reflect the freshest of what’s out there.

I wrote it a couple years ago before moving into my new place. It’s frivolous if you’re facing economic turmoil right now.

But if you do have some money to spend and are looking to use it in support of others during this crisis, check out these amazing Autistic artists.

Wow, there's some great artists on this list--a lot of them working for Autism Acceptance! Headed to Etsy...

I’m getting ready to move in the very near future here. It’s the first time in my life that I’ll have complete control over how my place is decorated, and I’m pretty psyched about that part.

In my mind’s eye, I can already see a couple blank spaces on the wall that I want to fill. While I’m not sure I will — because budget — that didn’t stop me from engaging in my guilty pleasure: browsing Etsy.

Because it’s Autism Acceptance Month, I decided to check out autistic artists on the platform. Last year, I got a pair of earrings that really spoke to me (words I never thought I’d say) from an autistic artist who communicates primarily through visuals. As April snuck up again this year, I realized I should be doing this more than one month out of the year.

Here are some of the artists I’ve found, and pieces of their work that I love.

RoryDoyleArt

I’m in love with so many things in Rory Doyle’s Etsy Shop. This one is the Rise of the Jellyfish.

This autistic artist has many pieces featuring wildlife, landscapes and abstract designs.

Retrophiliac

If you love cats, you will love Margaux Wosk’s shop: Retrophiliac.

I mean, kittens in teacups, ski bum kitties, Picaso cats — the list goes on, and all of it is delightful.

CadenceInspirations

Cadence is an 11-year-old Australian girl who has produced a fair amount of art and writing for her age. Some of her work has focused on autism and spreading acceptance.

I love this painting from her Etsy shop, but you can view even more of her work on her website.

HeAndSheSullivan

Gah, I had such a hard time picking just one from this shop! Sarah Neat-Sullivan has a lot of work up on Etsy. Some of it’s related to autism. Some of it isn’t. She has jewelry, paintings, and art made from felt or stitching.

It’s all pretty amazing, but the one I chose to show you is called The Slow Breathing of a Hill.

Those Blank Spaces

My budget may restrict me from filling those blank spaces right now, but when that’s no longer the case, I’m excited to turn to one of these artists to fill the void.

In recent years I’ve moved from the mindset of simply spending the least amount of money possible to holding off on the purchase if possible (it’s not, always) until I am able to make a purchase that supports people or companies doing good things.

Would you open up the Amazon app and get the $10 poster delivered to your door tomorrow because you pay extra for the extra-fast delivery service?

Or would you save up for meaningful art, letting the void just sit till your budget’s ready — forget aesthetics?

Disaster Budget: Corona Edition

When I’m budgeting through times of disaster — at a personal or global scale — the way I budget changes a little. Yes, I still try to employ the Golden Rule of Budgeting.

Yes, I still try to meet all of my obligations.

But my goals change. In times of prosperity, your goals may be to save for tomorrow. To pay bills based on their sequential due dates.

But when pandemic’s looming outside the front door, life’s just different.

Here are some things to think about as you construct your new budget after all the upsets of March.

NOTE: If you’re among the lucky who are still feeling comfortable, these considerations may not apply to you in as great of a degree or at all.

Disaster Budget Goal #1: Avoid homelessness.

When you’re homeless, your entire life becomes about not being homeless. Because being homeless makes everything else damn near impossible.

As of this writing, know that in many cases, your landlord cannot evict you. If they have a federally-backed mortgage, they cannot evict you until September 23rd, 2020.

What if the mortgage isn’t backed by the federal government?

Sigh.

There’s this big argument for state governments fending for themselves right now. For the record, America tried this system hardcore in the 1700s with the Articles of Confederation before writing our current Constitution. It didn’t work.

No joke: Shay’s Rebellion, one of the turning points in abandoning the Articles, was literally about people in Massachusetts being pissed off that they weren’t protected from foreclosure.

The middle of a pandemic seems like a bad time to open the experiment back up on such a grand scale.

But here we are.

If your landlord’s loan isn’t federally backed, you’re subject to your state or local laws. You may have stellar protections. You may have none.

I don’t know of a centralized place to find this information, which is a common and unfortunate consequence of decentralization.

I’m sorry.

You don’t want to wait until September to pay your rent.

As a part of the CARES Act, your landlord can’t impose any fees or penalties for you being late. Again, if they have a federally-backed mortgage.

While there are progressives in the legislative branch pushing for total forgiveness of rent payments, as of this writing, there’s still the issue of owing back rent.

Unless you have a really cool landlord who has a lot of financial wiggle room themselves, it’s going to be ideal to keep on top of your rent if you can, even if you don’t technically have to. If you don’t, it could pile up to one massive sum due later this year.

This ideal may change if you have some programs to help you on a state or local level.

Hopefully more stuff will pass through Congress to help all of us. But right now, you can’t bank on all that.

When I’m facing down a financial crisis, I prioritize rent. Unless there is a change in law, I’d still keep this expense at the top of my budget.

Disaster Budget Goal #2: Secure food.

Going to the grocery store is jarring. Those empty shelves. The masks. The lack of social distancing and dairy products.

But I still haven’t figured out a way to get things delivered or even scheduled for pick up in the midst of this pandemic. It seems to be the ability to pay for your food a few days or weeks ahead of time and a matter of timing your purchase attempt just right. I have yet to succeed.

I get my money in bursts. It’s not super regular.

So when I’m getting money in, I’m planning out our food needs for as long as fiscally reasonable. This doesn’t just help me get maximum peace of mind in one big trip to the store; it also minimizes my trips to the store and therefore exposure.

Disaster Budget Goal #3: Keep your health insurance.

Health insurance is expensive. Really expensive. It’s contributed to some of my debt.

Things with the health insurance got so bad that earlier this year I seriously considered cancelling my policy. The premiums have gotten higher and the network my provider grants me access to has shrunk.

I was getting frustrated with the hundreds I was throwing at them every month just to have to dispute every bill for some error, anyways.

I’m so glad I didn’t quit my senses in that financially-exhausting moment. If I had cancelled earlier in the year, I wouldn’t be able to repurchase a plan now. The President has told us so.

We’re living in the age of COVID-19, pre-vaccine. Odds of hospitalization and death go up if you’re older, but they’re definitely not zero for those of us under 50.

Add into the mix the fact that in America, it’s super common to get turned away for services if you don’t have health insurance. And in some cases it’s perfectly legal.

Oh, and on top of that, this is a really good time to have mental health benefits. If you don’t or even if you do, check out these tips from www.betterhelp.com to combat all that anxiety while we’re all stuck indoors.

Paying my premiums means I’m going to have more access to care, and my insurer will hopefully cover their portion of any treatment should I need it.

Treatment for COVID-19 is not free, by the way. Though testing is.

NOTE: If you’ve recently lost your job, you do qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, and you may want to consider Medicaid depending on where you live.

Disaster Budget Goal #4: That’s enough goals.

You’re running on a budget with potentially no income. Maybe some government benefits.

I mean, when/if those benefits come in.

Lol.

Because good luck getting through to the welfare office to follow up on your application right now.

The point is: You don’t need more goals. Get the basics covered. Then grant yourself some realistic grace.

That doesn’t mean you should ignore other bills. Manage them as best you can.

In fact, reaching out to the people you owe money to is recommended. They might have a plan to help you out, and are less likely to be punitively harsh with fees and penalties if you let them know what’s going on ahead of time.

I do have some other priorities in my disaster budgets like:

  • Medicine — though that’s a part of my healthcare budget category.
  • Certain insurance premiums. The ones that are important to you will depend greatly on your life circumstances.
  • Assets which could be repossessed. In past personal or national disasters, I’d be worried about my vehicle as it was my primary way to earn an income.
  • Utilities, for the same reason as rent. Even if you can get payments deferred today, you may still owe them eventually. I don’t even want to see that lump sum bill.
  • Business expenses, but only those which enable me to continue earning an income. I am super lucky to be in a situation where I still have some work. Just like I’ve been very concerned about my vehicle in the past, expenses for online tools that allow me to do my job are of vital importance.

What’s up next highest on your radar may look completely different than mine. That’s the beautiful thing about the ‘personal’ in personal finances.

Focus on the most important bills.

I’d argue that if you’re looking for some of the most important places to divert extremely limited resources right now, you should looks towards housing security, food security and access to some type of health insurance.

If you can get those things covered, you have a much better chance of recovering from all this economic turmoil.

For everything else, I need you to remember: This is not your fault. None of us could have predicted this, and if anything, it’s your government that is failing — not you.

I’m not saying it’s not going to be bumpy with the rest of the bills. Or even that meeting these three priorities is always going to be humanly possible.

But if you can prioritize the bills that are of core importance, it’s incredibly likely to make this unpredictable journey a heck of a lot less difficult.

Why You Should Keep Investing Despite COVID-19

Quick note before today’s post: I make the assumption in here that the American economy will recover over the long term. That prediction cannot be guaranteed, no more than in 2008 or 2016 or any other moment in time. Though I do believe it to be extremely likely.

The past week has been scary for a few different reasons. Most obviously relevant to us here today is the fear many have experienced as they watched the investments in their retirement accounts drop.

Quickly.

Before you panic, there are some things you need to remember — especially if you’re a millennial investor.

Panic is the problem.

The panic around COVID-19 is real. While we don’t yet know if this will be any better or worse than the 1918 influenza outbreak, there is one thing we do know for sure: Panic rarely serves humans well.

This is just as true in the stock market as it is in any other aspect of our lives. If you are saving for retirement, the worst thing you could do right now is panic.

Panic may lead to:

  • Selling off your investments after they’ve just experienced a dramatic loss.
  • Taxes on withdrawals you shouldn’t have made.
  • Loss of future returns your money now cannot earn because you pulled it out of the stock market.

Panic can lead you to exit the stock market altogether until you once again feel confident in it — presumably because it’s doing well again.

That’s called selling low and buying high. It’s the opposite of what you want to do as an investor.

You’ve already accounted for this. It’s a part of the plan.

If, however, you keep a level head and leave your money in your retirement account, continuing to contribute on a regular basis, you’re sticking to the plan.

And the plan has already accounted for this.

When you sat down to figure out how much money you needed to save for retirement every month, you probably picked an annualized rate of return somewhere between 6%-8%. That does not mean you will see a 6%-8% return every year.

Some years it will be dramatically more.

Some years it will be dramatically less.

In fact, some years, you might even experience a loss.

That 6%-8% interest you calculated accounts for the fact that there are going to be dips in the market. Heaven forbid, there will even be recessions.

But over the long term, the American stock market has historically always gone up.

That is what the 6%-8% represents: Over the entirety of your investment career, the stock market is extremely likely to rise, though it might dip and/or rise wildly between any given two days.

Sometimes those runs or dips can last for a sustained period of time.

What we experienced last week was one of those dips.

To be fair, it was a dramatic one. But it’s already been accounted for.

You haven’t lost any money unless you cash out.

You might look at your IRA and see that the number has gone down, but that doesn’t really mean you’ve lost any money.

That just means that if you cashed out today you would lose money.

If you let your investments ride this out and the market recovers as it has every other time in the past, you won’t lose money.

Quite the opposite. Your money will grow.

No one can tell you where you’ll find the floor.

Right now there’s a lot of people thinking:

“Hm, I wonder if this is the lowest the market will go. If it were and I invested right now, my money could only grow.”

If you’re one of those people, I’ve got nothing for you.

No one does.

Because no one can tell you where the floor is, just as no one can definitively tell you the future.

But many stocks are clearly less expensive now than they were seven days ago. If you’re investing for the long-term, it’s not an unattractive time to get started.

Don’t have a retirement account yet? Now’s a good time to open one.

If you’re feeling all cocky because you have zero stock market stress in your life because you don’t have a retirement account, let me take you down a couple notches.

First of all, if you don’t have a retirement because you cannot afford to save due to a low income, let me introduce you to the Roth IRA. It may just solve your problems.

But a lack of retirement accounts or any investments is not something to feel cocky about, even in the worst of times for the stock market.

In fact, when the stock market is doing poorly, you just may want to consider getting in on the game. While you cannot time the market, this is much closer to a successful “buy low, sell high” strategy you’d ideally want to achieve.

How to Open a Retirement Account When You Don’t Get One from Work

Since the Recession last decade, fintech has grown. There are now ways you can get in on the stock market even if your employer doesn’t offer you a retirement account because, ‘benefits? lol what are those even?’

There are ways you can get in on the stock market even if you don’t have an initial investment of thousands of dollars.

Roboadvisors now allow you to save for retirement with crazy small sums, even as little as $1. They allow you to do so outside an employer plan, though you can rollover your employer plans over using roboadvisors, too.

I got a really late start on investing myself. Coming of age during the last Recession, I was terrified of the stock market. I was great at setting aside money, but my cash wouldn’t earn enough interest to keep up with inflation, nonetheless grow.

Roboadvisors made investing an option for me by making the barrier to entry lower once I realized what a fool I was being for being afraid of the stock market. Once I realized how much I had caved to panic.

I currently like Wealthsimple, as they give me good options for socially responsible investing. They’ve also got Halal investment portfolios. Because they’re a roboadvisor, their portfolios run off an algorithm; you don’t need to know anything about investing to get started.

But this is bad.

It might be. We don’t know yet how bad things are going to get. I do not mean to minimize the loss of human life that has already happened and that which is yet to come.

My words do not come with an ignorance of supply chain disruptions, and how food shortages and Machiavellian healthcare policies could disproportionately affect those who have traditionally not had access to the stock market at all.

This could get bad. But so much of the stock market is what we believe it to be.

While I’m disgusted with much of my government at this current moment in time, I fundamentally believe in America and her ability to overcome all types of ill — whether they be physical or political. Her ability to strive for a better tomorrow, even when today is so tragically flawed.

So I’m choosing to invest in both her future and my own. I’ve got a few international mutual funds in the mix, too.