In these unsettling times you have reason to be worried about your assets. The risks fall especially hard on older workers who are being offered early retirement or are being pushed out of the jobs they have held onto for years. Anyone trying to defend personal investments will be facing hard times.
If you have savings of $100,000 or less your money is safe in your banking account. It is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. If you have more in one account be safe and move everything over $95,000 to another account. More than $100,000 can be insured in one bank if you have different types of accounts.
Money markets are not insured but in the 37 years they have existed, they have never lost any money for individuals. If you have a money market fund check its web site. It should have a statement disclosing whether exposed to any troubled companies. Vanguard and Schwab say they are all right. Two T.Rowe Price funds sold Lehman securities at a discount but didn't break the bank. For an entirely safe money market, choose one that invests in Treasuries and other government debt.
Stay away from the new money-fund-insurances. If they win, their bonuses rise, if they lose the government pays. That's the kind of shenanigans that brought on our present financial crisis. Your AIG insurance policies and annuities are safe. If you are holding an AIG policy don't replace it. You will pay fees to leave and more fees to buy coverage elsewhere. If you are shopping for insurance, however, don't buy AIG. Look for top rated companies with no recent downgrade on their records.
The Securities Investor Protection Corp. insures your brokerage accounts for up to $500,000 ($100,000) so they are safe. Your mutual fund is also safe. Investment Company Act of 1940 takes care of that.
Delay retirement if you can. In poor markets keep your job and your health insurance. If you are let go, look for a part time job. Retirees who are living on their savings should take out as little as possible. If you have debt you are living beyond your means. Why make your life harder by paying for things you bought five years ago?
Mortgage rated have dropped but banks won't lend and the credit card limits are being cut back. Now is the time to pay off all your debts, stay within your means and get your finances in order for the long haul...