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Terry’s Response to Your Questions

By Terry Savage on March 20, 2020

Thanks for all your questions. As you can imagine, I’ve been overwhelmed with individual questions about specific investments. It would be impossible and unprofessional of me to try to answer them without knowing more details. And that is impossible.

So this message is directed at those who get no advice because they are in 401(k) or other similar plans, and also at those who were talked into investments they don’t understand. I understand your fear of loss, but don’t let it overrule your common sense. It’s not all going away! We will get through this.

Here’s how I see the situation as of pre-opening on March 20.

1. The stock market makes the headlines, and it looks like it will get a bounce today. Don’t get lured back in unless you’re a short tern speculator with risk capital. There will continue to be volatile moves in each direction.

2. No one ever notices bonds except to assume they are “safer” than stocks. But bonds can lose value (market price) if there are fears companies can’t pay the promised interest — or if there are fears of inflation (money printing) that will impact the value of the interest you get down the road. Both are happening now, and will impact the future.

Read my column “You Can’t Hide in Bonds”for a longer explanation.

Do NOT cash in your US Savings bonds! They are an exception to this advice about bonds!

3. The only “safe” place is a money market mutual fund or bank CDs or US Treasury bills. Here’s a column from a year ago on “Chicken Money” for an explanation of what is included in this category.

4. Be very careful that you remain INSIDE your IRA or 401(k) if you change investments. You don’t want to get an unexpected tax bill for a withdrawal.

5. Don’t panic. You’ve already lost money if you didn’t act on my earlier warnings. Take a deep breath. We will come through this. Don’t “sell everything “ as some people are doing blindly right now. Just make sure you have a few years living expenses in liquid, chicken money investments.

America will come back from this, just like 9/11 and so many other scary times. Remember, no one ever got rich betting against America.

Finally, the most important thing is for you to stay safe personally. That’s not about money. The numbers for this virus — once testing really shows the facts — are going to be scary. Take this seriously. It is far more important than money! That’s the Savage Truth!

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