Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
Leaving Website

You are now leaving and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

11 Ways to Keep Calm in Turbulent Economic Times

Expert tips to keep your finances on firm ground

spinner image images of dollars receipts graphs and money
Getty Images

We asked 11 financial experts for their advice to older Americans during these turbulent economic times. Here’s what they said.

1. Keep things in perspective

“One of the benefits to getting old is that I’ve seen this movie before. A lot of people will dare you into thinking that this is a dangerous time, but it’s not. The period from 2007 to 2009 was the most perilous time that we’ll ever live through. That will not be repeated. And it won’t be repeated because we’ve changed a lot of laws and agency rules to make it so that if we really get in trouble, then we can fix it. So let’s take the terrible, horrible, most miserable, frightening issues off the table. I’m continuing to put money in my IRA and my 401(k) a little bit each month, and I’m urging people to continue to invest. I think that in your 60s and 70s, you should still be investing, and I think you should do it in a regular fashion.”

—Jim Cramer, host of CNBC’s Mad Money and the CNBC Investing Club 

spinner image Image Alt Attribute

AARP Membership— $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.

Join Now

2. Break your habits

spinner image signs listing buy one get one deals
Getty Images

“We make shopping lists, then we get to the store and say, ‘How can it be that much for strawberries?’ As prices are going up, do it a completely different way. Look at the local sales flyers and see what’s on sale. Build your weekly menu based strictly around what’s on sale, rather that what you’d normally predetermine to buy.

“The other thing with groceries is that where you shop is so much more important than it used to be. Grocers used to be very similar. Now there are discounters. Where you shop is important. People need to break their old habits of favorite stores. That can really make a difference.”

—Clark Howard, author of Living Large in Lean Times and host of The Clark Howard Podcast

3. Ignore the noise

“Don’t get mired in data that has nothing to do with you. For instance, if you’re no longer commuting to work or driving as much as you used to, the price of gas, while painful, is not impacting you as much. The same goes for stock market gyrations, which make a huge amount of headlines. But if your income is based on a salary or Social Security, then you don’t have to worry about it.”

—Jean Chatzky, AARP financial ambassador and CEO of

4. Control what you can

spinner image a stack of hundred dollar bills with tabs labeled utilities mortgage and food
Getty Images

“The most difficult thing for people to do is surrender control, or admit that they don’t have control over something; that’s relationships, jobs, everything. A lot of financial anxiety is around larger issues over which individuals have no control. The sooner you get to acceptance, the better you’ll feel. Instead, focus on your individual choices and key wellness barometers. One is cash flow. ‘Do I have enough money to pay all my bills and make sure I’m not using credit to fund my lifestyle?’ ”

Shopping & Groceries

Coupons for Local Stores

Save on clothing, gifts, beauty and other everyday shopping needs

See more Shopping & Groceries offers >

—Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, CEO of and author of Zero Debt

5. Never stop shopping around

“You can manage your monthly expenses without making huge sacrifices. A lot of times when we do autopay, we don’t look for extra costs or what we’re not using. For example, car and home insurance: People shop around for the best policy when they first buy, but over time that price will increase, and people don’t shop around again. That happened to me. My overall house payment went up, and it was my insurance [that caused the rise]. I got better coverage and saved $1,000, and at the same time I raised my deductible. I should have shopped around sooner.”

—Andrea Woroch, consumer savings specialist at and coauthor of Pivot With Purpose

6. Focus on the good news

“There’s some good news inside the bad news — OK news, at least. Suppose you’re a homeowner, and you don’t expect to move. Housing inflation is not affecting you in any fundamental way. Suppose you’re living on Social Security, and you have a mortgage payment. Your Social Security benefits go up, but your mortgage payment remains unchanged. On an inflation-adjusted basis, your repayment of the mortgage has just dropped. Younger retirees want to get the most out of their inflation-protection resources as possible. One way to do that is to maximize your Social Security benefit. Most people should be waiting until 70, and only 6 percent are. That’s particularly problematic when you have inflation, because you’re giving up the benefit of having more of your resources protected against inflation.”

—Laurence Kotlikoff, professor of economics at Boston University and author of Money Magic

7. Open a bank account

“The pandemic and tough economic conditions have exacerbated financial concerns unique to older adults. They’re being targeted by scammers and getting separated from caregivers who have helped manage their money. One way to combat this, particularly if you don’t have a banking relationship, is to attend a money management or financial literacy workshop conducted by a credible nonprofit organization to understand how bank accounts work. Bank accounts are the best way to safeguard against theft. Unlike paper checks, the money can be directly deposited, and in some cases, you may have earlier access to your benefits. In cases of fraud, financial institutions will investigate and support the recovery of funds, if possible. “

—John Hope Bryant, entrepreneur, founder of Operation Hope and author of Up From Nothing: The Untold Story of How We (All) Succeed

spinner image membership-card-w-shadow-192x134


Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.

8. Consider working

spinner image money falling from the sky
Getty Images

“The looming concern for workers is outliving your money. Financing three decades of not working is an incredibly daunting idea, and it sets people up for failure. The most important thing is to consider working longer as part of your retirement plan. You have a 401(k) or pension, savings, Social Security, but you absolutely need to put work in there. It can be contract or seasonal work, but you need some income stream that helps you. This will also help you to wait on Social Security until 70. If you can look ahead, think about what kind of work you want to do as you move into your 60s or 70s or 80s. You can add new skills. You can do this.”

—Kerry Hannon, author of In Control at 50+ and AARP’s Great Jobs for Everyone 50+

9. Track your numbers

“In times like this, it helps to look at your numbers — what your living expenses will be in retirement. If you aren’t solid on your numbers, track your actual spending for three or four months — as much of a pain as it is — to make some realistic assumptions to cover your quality of life. Make sure you include some of the wants with the needs. You don’t want to retire and not be able to do anything. Maybe you’re not going to take that European vacation right now, but maybe you’ll get in the car and go to a national park.”

—Fritz Gilbert, author of Keys to a Successful Retirement: Staying Happy, Active, and Productive in Your Retired Years

10. Watch out for taxes

“History has shown us that the economy will always recover. Unless you absolutely need the money, it’s best not to withdraw in a declining market. If you have $100 and take $30 out, then only $70 can earn money. Instead of withdrawing, use tax-free money if you can, like a Roth IRA. Some people are using reverse mortgages; they’re safe if you use them the right way. Having that source of income and monetizing it tax-free is one of the best moves you can make. People don’t think of tax savings as a source of money, but it is.”

—Ed Slott, contributing columnist for AARP and founder of

11. Get inspired

“People ask me a lot about when inflation is coming down, and should they panic, and is a recession around the corner. I want them to know not to panic. We’re on this. Fixes can’t happen overnight, but we’re resolute.

“What I see out there is people are amazingly resilient. I was at a discount store recently and it was senior day. The store was packed, and they ring a bell if you round up your purchase to donate to charity. Customer after customer was having the bell rung. While people are struggling themselves, they’re still realizing they’re not in the fight alone. That’s really inspiring.”

—Mary C. Daly, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Discover AARP Members Only Access

Join AARP to Continue

Already a Member?