5 wise money moves before the Fed starts raising interest rates again
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell (pictured) and his colleagues have said the central bank will keep its benchmark interest rate near zero for the time being, despite gains made by the U.S. economy in recent months.
But rates won’t stay low forever. As the economy recovers from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation is rising and more people are getting back to work. This has led the Fed to indicate a rate hike could come as soon as 2023 — moved up from its previous plan to wait until 2024.
For consumers, that means now may be the time to splurge on a fun purchase or take out a loan for something they need.
Here are five money moves you should make before rates rise.
Refinance your home loanG-Stock Studio / Shutterstock
Mortgage rates fell to record-breaking lows during the pandemic, but they’re slowly creeping up as the economy continues to recover from COVID-19.
While rates are currently at historically low levels, experts predict they will rise to 4% this year — which means now's the time to act if you’ve been mulling a refinance.
An estimated 14.1 million Americans have the opportunity to refi and save an average $287 a month, according to recent research from mortgage technology and data provider Black Knight.
Alternatively, rising house prices offer homeowners an opportunity to leverage their home equity to fund home improvement projects, pay down debt or cover their children’s education funds.
Consolidate your debtRawpixel.com / Shutterstock
The pandemic made it difficult for Americans to travel, eat in restaurants or spend on retail purchases, and many used the money they didn't spend on those activities to increase their savings and pay down debt.
The number of consumers who paid off their credit card balances in full every month reached an all-time high of 35.1% late last year, according to a report from the American Bankers Association.
Still, many households are struggling to make ends meet. And, with unemployment benefits ending in many states across the country, those still out of work or living on reduced incomes may have had to give up their debt repayment plans to focus on immediate needs.
If you’ve been relying on your credit cards to carry you through, the expensive interest is going to add up quickly.
For those who can’t borrow from their home equity to pay off card balances, a debt consolidation loan could help you get rid of debt sooner and save you a ton on expensive interest.
Work on your credit scoreREDPIXEL.PL / Shutterstock
While today's low rates make it easier to take out loans, you'll find it more expensive to borrow when rates do go up.
Today, it's easy to take a free peek at your credit score. So now’s the time to work on improving that score to ensure you’ll continue to be able to borrow at the lowest-possible rates.
Boosting your credit score a few hundred points will make you a more attractive borrower to all types of lenders – from credit-card issuers to those offering mortgages.
Refinance your student loanszimmytws / Shutterstock
Federal student loan payments are paused until October but some prominent Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, are pushing the president to provide more relief for borrowers and forgive up to $50,000 per person.
But those with debt from private student loans are still on the hook for their regular monthly minimum payments.
If you're one of those borrowers, refinancing to a lower rate or shorter term could save you thousands in interest fees and shave years off your debt.
According to online loan marketplace, Credible, refinancing could slash your interest rate by more than 2 full percentage points and add up to substantial interest savings over the life of the loan.
To maximize your savings, compare loan offers from multiple lenders to lock in the lowest refinance rate possible.
Ride the red-hot stock marketNicoElNino / Shutterstock
Current low interest rates mean you won't earn much if you put money in a savings account. If you’ve got the appetite to take on a bit more risk, you could consider putting your money in investments.
Even if you don’t have much to put aside, you can download a popular app that allows you to invest with your “spare change”, and turn your pennies into a diversified portfolio.
Or, if you’re still apprehensive about the stock market, you could look into investing in farmland. This stable, profitable asset has been known to offer better returns than real estate and stocks, according to data from the investing platform FarmTogether.