financialsThere’s an old saying that knowledge is power, and there’s no doubt that this applies to our financial lives. The more we know about what’s going on and how things work, the better we can position ourselves to maximize our financial gains. And by the same token, those who are caught off guard will be the ones hurt by forces beyond their control.

A wide array of factors can change to affect our financial lives. Keeping up with financial news will help you make sure that you aren’t caught off guard.

Let’s look at a few examples. Suppose you are a subscriber to a streaming video service, and the company has made a decision to increase their rates. If you haven’t followed breaking finance news enough to hear this story, you may not be able to react and figure out a way to save money. If you do know, you have power. You can begin shopping around and find a better price with another provider–possibly before your new provider even knows that your old one is raising rates.

However, you won’t necessarily get that story from the evening news or even most cable outlets, certainly not in a timely manner. Bear in mind that financial news sites will report these stories long before general news outlets, which may underplay their importance or set them aside in favor of other major stories. When the talking head has 22 minutes of air time each evening, stories like earthquakes and wars will always pre-empt consumer news.

So just as you need to make good decisions about your financial future based on what you know today, you also need to follow closely on a financial news site to stay in touch with the things that can impact your life.

Here is another situation in which following financial news can help you. Mortgage rates can vary somewhat from lender to lender, but beneath it all is the federal prime rate. When there is news of the Fed enacting a rate change–or even just news of a discussion about a rate change–you need to be looking to lock in a rate. Consider a refinance that will hold your rate steady throughout the term of the loan, and do some calculation to see what that step will save you.

Sometimes financial news can be hidden in a bigger general news story. One example of this could be wildfires. The massive conflagrations of a parched Southwest carry a big human interest as resident grab their belongings and flee. Resources from all over the country deploy to the area as anxious officials stare at weather forecasts in search of a break. It is a major story–but it has a financial angle, too.

How are other parts of the economy affected? Will insurers go bankrupt under the weight of claims from the fire? If you own stock in an insurance company, that is important news for you. Major fires can disrupt utilities, divert traffic, and evacuate employers. Is an oil price spike coming thanks to a decrease in the barrels of oil flowing out of Texas or Oklahoma?

The point is very simple: Almost nothing happens in an economic vacuum. Every plane crash, political appointment, or disease outbreak carries a financial impact. You need a news source that sees the fiscal side of the event in addition to the human side. That source will give you as much lead time as possible to take steps to protect yourself.

Finances are a complicated thing. There are countless variables that can impact employment, interest rates, commodity costs, and government policy, and every one of those potential changes means dollars and cents to you. Just as you stay in tune with your health, your work, and your family, you should also stay in touch with the financial world to keep your money safe, secure, and growing.

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