Tune Out Negative News, Consumer Advocate Says

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Treat your 401(k) plan like people who have pension funds and forget it. Make your contributions every pay period and believe free markets work. Remember your retirement account is like a bar of soap the more you touch it the smaller it gets. You should allow professionals to manage your account and take emotions out of the picture.

“Our national problem is really a lack of confidence and certainty,” Blayney said. “We are becoming fixated on negative information, and it’s clouding our judgment about the future. People have stopped spending on critical goods meant to replace old or worn-out products—spending that is crucial to an economic recovery.”Indeed, in an economic outlook report this week, Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott, said that consumer spending is one-third of what it was before the financial crisis hit in 2008.

Thus, Blayney spells out eight steps that investors can take to improve their outlook and take control of their financial future, starting with:

Disconnecting from the negativity. Unplug the TV and turn off the news. “Just because you’ve heard the negative news about economic growth four times from different sources does not mean that it is four times as bad,” Blayney said.

Start from a new foundation. Accept the current value of your home, your 401(k), your savings and your brokerage accounts—and start from there to build a fresh start, Blayney said. “It is much easier to remain confident if you see yourself making a fresh start toward building your financial security, rather than waiting for the good times to return.”

Weather-proof your portfolio by revisiting your risk tolerance. Blayney recommends a well-diversified portfolio centered around high-quality investments.

Live within your means. That means saving money. Immediately, that will improve your outlook, Blayney says.

Educate a child. “Just spending time with a child—observing their energy, curiosity, sense of wonder and imagination—inspires hope for a better future,” she says.

Learn a new skill. Take a class, read a book, explore a new place, focus on boosting your career.

Be charitable. Make a contribution to someone less fortunate. If you don’t have the money, give your time. “The sense of connection to others, and being able to help, usually puts our own financial difficulties in perspective,” Blayney says.

Draw up a financial plan—ideally with a professional.

“It’s not a matter of whistling in the economic dark, but actually taking concrete steps to illuminate the course forward,” Blayney says. “Confidence that you are on the right path is the first, most important step toward financial security.”

Great message.

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