How To Build Back Your Emergency Fund In a Tight Budget

Emergency funds are  important should you be faced with an unforeseen setback like a sudden job loss, an unexpected car repair or a serious medical situation. If you tapped into or depleted your emergency savings during the pandemic, it’s vital to set a financial goal to rebuild an emergency fund. Experts suggest having enough money for six months of living expenses in an emergency fund.

Even if your budget is tight, there are ways to stash some cash each month toward emergency savings. “It may seem difficult to set aside savings when you are on a tight budget, but you have to think about it as having no other choice,” said Dawit Kebede, a senior economist for the Credit Union National Association, which advocates on behalf of America’s credit unions.

Why is an emergency fund so important to have?

Your emergency fund allows you to pay for unexpected expenses, like providing a cushion if you lose your job or face sudden financial obligations. If you don’t have savings, you may have to rely on credit cards.

“Most people rely on high-interest rate credit cards to pay for unforeseen expenses, which leaves them in debt,” said Kebede. “Creating an emergency fund avoids relying on debt to absorb a financial shock.”

Pay yourself first

Kebede noted that people tend to put saving at the bottom of their priorities when they have fewer resources. So make building an emergency fund a priority.

“Understand that savings cannot be the lowest priority on your budget,” Kebede said. “You have to pay yourself first, even if it’s $15 a month. Setting goals and setting aside something, however small it may be, will go a long way. It will accumulate over time.”

Set a reasonable monthly goal, even when there’s little wiggle room.

Commit to putting bonus cash in your savings

If you get any extra money during the month, even if it’s a small amount, earmark it for your emergency fund.

“When building out your emergency fund for the first time or rebuilding following a major emergency expense, it’s okay to start with small contributions, and any tax refunds, gifts or extra cash are all great ways to contribute,” said Ryan Ball, vice president of market experience at Capital One. “Having a small amount in your account is more helpful than nothing at all in the preparedness for an emergency.”

Set up a save schedule

If you get paid twice a month, for example, create a plan to take a set amount and transfer it directly to your emergency savings account. Even if your budget is tight, pick a small amount and devote it to savings. “When contributing to your emergency fund, the best practice is to contribute to your account regularly and setting a schedule can help,” advised Ball.

To force savings, Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com, advised automating your savings with a direct deposit from your paycheck into a dedicated savings account. “The savings happens first without having to think about it,” McBride said.

Another option, McBride explained, especially for the self-employed, is to set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to a savings account at a regular interval, such as once per month or every two weeks.

How can you force yourself to save without it seeming like a punishment?

First, accept the mindset that savings should be viewed as deferred spending for important or unexpected items rather than a punishment, said Kebede. Next, take an inventory of your spending habits. Can you cancel monthly subscriptions you’re not using?

Can you reduce takeout meals or the amount you’re spending on extras like dining out or paying for coffee every morning? Can you carpool to save on gas or stick to your grocery list by meal planning in advance?

“Setting aside a small amount regularly helps you feel that you haven’t sacrificed a lot, and watching your savings slowly accumulate will also provide motivation for you to continue,” Kebede said.

Use your banking institution’s resources

Your bank may have resources available to assist you to promote financial wellness and education.

For example, Ball noted that Capital One has resources, including its complimentary Money & Life Program, that helps participants build a plan to achieve their goals in life and think through how their financial behaviors connect to those goals.

“In addition to Money & Life mentoring sessions with a professional mentor, we offer a self-guided Money & Life exercise, ‘Map Your Spend,’ that can help participants visualize their spending and figure out where they can make changes to put a little extra money per month away for an emergency fund,” he said.

Contact your bank or visit a retail location to inquire about what mentoring services may be available.

Source: How to build back your emergency fund in a tight budget | Fox Business

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Tesla Stock Closes Down More Than 12% After Musk’s Twitter Deal

Tesla stock closed down more than 12% on Tuesday as the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite slipped nearly 4%. Other mega-cap tech stocks like Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook parent Meta shed more than 3%. Shares of electric-vehicle makers Rivian and Lucid also closed down 9.5% and 8.7%, respectively.

The declines come just a day after Twitter’s board approved Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of the company, showing some of the fall off may be a reflection of investor concerns with the deal. Musk has secured $25.5 billion of fully committed debt, including $12.5 billion in loans against his Tesla stock. The deal also includes $21 billion in equity.

Musk’s understanding of free speech on a global level is somewhat ‘sophomoric,’ says NYT columnist. Despite being the world’s richest person, much of Musk’s wealth is tied up in Tesla stock, meaning he would likely have to borrow against his holdings to fund the deal.

Tesla investors also may be concerned about the possible distractions that could come from owning a platform like Twitter. Musk has appeared to want to heavily influence the company’s operations, which could lead to a time crunch for him. Assuming the deal closes, Musk would be in charge of Tesla, Twitter and SpaceX. He also owns two smaller ventures, the Boring Company and Neuralink.

Automakers, including Tesla, are struggling with the rising costs of raw materials that go into batteries, and a semiconductor chip shortage exacerbated by the Covid restrictions in Shanghai. Tesla said in its first-quarter 2022 earnings report on April 20 that, while automotive revenue was up 87% from the year-earlier period to $16.86 billion, the company lost about a month of “build volume” in Shanghai because of Covid shutdowns.

Tesla generated around $4.65 billion in China in the first quarter of 2022. The Chinese market now accounts for 24.8% of Tesla revenue. Tesla has also been exporting cars from China to the broader Asian and European markets. While it recently opened a new factory in Austin, Texas and another in Brandenburg, Germany, the company is just beginning to increase production in these locations.

“For most vehicles, our delivery wait times are quite long. Those cars delivered in Q1 generally carried pricing set in prior quarters, and at levels lower than cars being ordered today,” CFO Zach Kirkhorn said on the company’s earnings call. “Production is resuming at limited levels, and we’re working to get back to full production as quickly as possible,” he later added.

Tesla doesn’t expect to raise prices again soon, either. Musk said on the same call, “The current prices are for a vehicle delivered in the future, like six to 12 months from now.”

By: Jessica Bursztynsky & Lora Kolodny

Source: Tesla stock closes down more than 12% after Musk’s Twitter deal

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Russia Debt Default Could See the US Seize the Country’s Assets

The impending Russian debt default is likely to be one of the most difficult in history to resolve, and could even lead the US to permanently seize assets from the country’s central bank, according to a report from the consultancy Oxford Economics.

Russia is facing its first default on its foreign-currency debt since the aftermath of the Bolshevik revolution in 1918.

The US Treasury earlier this month blocked Russia from paying $650 million due on two bonds using funds held at American banks. Russia has instead tried to pay in rubles, but credit ratings agencies have said this would constitute a default.

Russia has a 30-day grace period from April 4 in which to pay in dollars. But thoughts are now turning to the next steps, and how bondholders might recoup their money.

Tatiana Orlova, lead emerging markets economist at Oxford Economics, said investors face a “very long and difficult” legal road. “Russia’s debt crisis will be among the most difficult in history to resolve, since the default has its roots in politics rather than finance,” she wrote in a report that was sent to clients Thursday.

One of the key problems is that political and financial relations between Russia and the West have completely broken down. That makes the usual default process, whereby bondholders and the government enter negotiations and thrash out a deal, seem unlikely to happen.

Orlova said another problem for bondholders is that Ukraine may lay a claim to Russian assets in international courts to pay for the rebuilding of the country. In that case, investors would have to weigh up whether they want to compete with the Ukrainian government for Russian assets.

The economist said the US might eventually end up seizing the money from the Russian central bank’s foreign currency reserves. Western governments have already frozen the bulk of the roughly $600 billion stockpile. Joe Biden earlier this year ordered that half of Afghanistan’s central bank reserves, which were also frozen, be made available as possible compensation for victims of 9/11 and to fund humanitarian support in the country.

“The US administration could possibly find a stronger moral cause for splitting the US-denominated portion of Russia’s FX reserves between Ukraine and bondholders,” Orlova said. Russia’s Finance Minister Anton Siluanov has said the government has fulfilled its obligations by paying in rubles. He said last week Western governments are forcing Russia into a default and threatened to take legal action.

It’s not just holders of Russian sovereign debt who may have to take to the courts to try to get their money. Orlova’s report said there is likely to be an “avalanche” of Russian corporate debt defaults, given that the US is taking a hard line and banning American banks from processing payments.

An international committee of banks last week deemed state-owned Russian Railways to be in default, after sanctions stopped the company from making bond payments.

There were roughly $98 billion of Russian corporate foreign-currency bonds outstanding as the war began in February, according to JPMorgan, with $21.3 billion owned by foreign investors.

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Source: Russia Debt Default Could See the US Seize the Country’s Assets: Economist

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A default would make Russia more of a pariah in the global economy. Selling bonds is a critical way that countries raise foreign currencies to fund projects and raise reserves of foreign currencies, among other purposes.

But the European Union is considering a ban on energy imports from Russia, which would further limit Russia’s ability to raise money in foreign currencies.Countries that have defaulted on their bonds have eventually been welcomed back to global debt markets, but memories of a default linger and Russia may have to pay more to borrow from foreign investors in the future.

A default would also be historically significant and fraught with symbolism. It would mark the first time Russia has defaulted on foreign bond payments in more than a century (though it did default on local currency debt in 1998). Russia’s predicament is yet another consequence of its invasion of Ukraine, according to Tim Samples, a professor at the University of Georgia who specializes in foreign investment.

“This is a reflection of just how far and how fast Russia has fallen from favor in Western capital markets,” he said. Not necessarily, but most investors will need to go through a protracted legal battle to try to get the money they are owed.

Although Russia was not a big seller of foreign debt, major hedge funds and asset managers, including Invesco and PIMCO, bought bonds. Russia has 15 bonds outstanding that are denominated in dollars and euros, and altogether, they are worth around $40 billion, according to Morgan Stanley.

Much of Russia’s debt was registered in the United Kingdom, which is where it’s likely that most of the court fights will take place. It can be a complicated process, and it will take a long time to resolve. After Argentina defaulted in 2001, several efforts were made to restructure the country’s debt. All told, negotiations lasted longer than a decade.

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Russia’s Creditors May Have To Choose Between Getting Paid In Rubles Or Not Getting Paid At All

Russia’s creditors face the unappetizing prospect of accepting debt payments in rubles after the U.S. Treasury decided Monday to block the Kremlin from using its dollar reserves.

The Russian currency crashed 40% in the days after President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine but has mostly bounced back since. A default on the $636 million debt payment and further sanctions tied to alleged Russian atrocities could trigger another nosedive in the ruble’s value.

“If they can’t get their dollars, either because they’re blocked or Russia won’t pay them, and they are offered rubles and they can get access to them, they’d be smart to take the rubles,” said Jay Newman, a former portfolio manager for Elliott Management who spearheaded the hedge fund’s 15-year battle with the government of Argentina over bond payments. “Rubles at least are worth something.”

The U.S. Treasury froze Russian central bank assets held in the U.S. in February after the invasion of Ukraine, but made an exemption for debt payments that was set to expire on May 25. With Russia continuing its offensive for more than a month, however, and new images showing horrifying scenes of bodies of civilians on the streets of Bucha, Ukraine, the U.S. accelerated that timeline, blocking Russia from making debt payments to investors.

Until then, JPMorgan Chase and BNY Mellon, two New York-based banks, acted as go-betweens for Russian payments to creditors. Putin’s government continued to make payments on time throughout March, most recently with a $447 million coupon payment last week. Both JPMorgan and BNY Mellon declined to comment.

“On the one hand, there’s a sense that if a sanction target wants to use scarce resources to pay U.S. creditors back, why should we object?” said Robert Kahn, director of global macroeconomics at the Eurasia Group. “But if we’re making life easier for them by opening up these doorways, I do think that at moments like this, particularly in the context of the awful images we have seen in the last few days, the interest of creditors is just not given a very high priority.”

The Kremlin dismissed the notion on Wednesday that it’s at risk of not being able to make the payments during a 30-day grace period. Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia has “all necessary resources to service its debts” and insisted that payments could be paid in rubles if necessary. A U.S.

Treasury spokesperson said the move will deplete the resources Putin is using to continue the war. “Russia must choose between draining remaining valuable dollar reserves or new revenue coming in, or default,” the Treasury spokesperson said.

If Russia elects not to pay, it wouldn’t be the first time — a 1987 Forbes story covered a 96-year-old woman who was still waiting to be paid for czarist bonds her husband had bought in 1919 shortly after Russia defaulted on its debt during the Bolshevik Revolution.

Anton Siluanov, Russia’s minister of finance, said on state TV in March that about $300 billion of the country’s $640 billion in gold and foreign reserves has been frozen by sanctions. If Russia still has access to about $340 billion in reserves, the country appears to have more than enough to cover its total of $40 billion owed in international bonds, but Kahn said it’s not that simple and expects defaults to begin in the coming weeks.

“Dollars in a Chinese bank or gold in Moscow may be in principle unblocked, but it’s hard for them to take those and use them to buy the things they need,” Khan said. “My sense is that the usable reserves are really far lower than what the minister said.”

Russia will still be able to use revenue from sales of commodities like wheat, palladium and oil to meet its debt obligations. The U.S. has blocked imports of Russian oil, but other importing countries haven’t followed suit.

Meanwhile, trading in dollar-denominated Russian corporate bonds has skyrocketed, with investors hunting for bargains despite the reputational risk. The average daily value of trades as of March 24 was double the same period a year before and the most in two years, according to Bloomberg.

I’m a reporter on Forbes’ money team covering the wealthiest people and most influential firms on Wall Street. I’ve reported on the world’s billionaires for Forbes’ wealth team and was

Source: Russia’s Creditors May Have To Choose Between Getting Paid In Rubles Or Not Getting Paid At All

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Russia Launches Eurobond Rouble Buyback Offer on Looming $2 bln Bond Payment

A view shows Russian rouble coins in this picture illustration taken October 26, 2018. Picture taken October 26, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

  • Eurobond rouble payment offer rekindles default fears
  • Moscow does not say if bondholders must take roubles
  • Russia has already demanded gas payments in roubles
  • Move may help locals facing dollar payment restrictions

LONDON, March 29 (Reuters) – Russia has offered to buy back dollar bonds maturing next week in roubles in a move seen by analysts as helping local holders of the $2 billion sovereign issue receive payment, while also easing the country’s hard-currency repayment burden.

The finance ministry offer on Eurobonds maturing on April 4, Russia’s biggest debt payment this year, follows Western moves to tighten sanctions against the country over its invasion of Ukraine and to freeze Moscow out of international finance.

Moscow, which calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation”, says Western measures amount to “economic war”. In response, it has introduced countermeasures and has demanded foreign firms pay for Russian gas in roubles rather than dollars or euros. read more

The bonds – issued in 2012 – would be bought at a price equivalent to 100% of their nominal value, the ministry said its statement. Buying back bonds will reduce the overall size of the outstanding bond when it matures on April 4.

However, it was not immediately clear if the amount the government would buy back was limited or what would happen to holdings of creditors that would not tender their bonds.

The terms of the bond prescribe that repayment has to occur in dollars. Repaying at maturity in roubles might again raise the prospect of Russia’s first external sovereign default in a century.

Analysts and investors said the move was likely designed to help Russian holders who now face restrictions in receiving dollar payments.

“This is a tender offer and not a final decision that these bonds will be paid in roubles. Perhaps, Russian authorities want to gauge investors’ willingness to accept payment in roubles?” said Seaport Global credit analyst Himanshu Porwal.

Tim Ash of BlueBay Asset Management, which is not a bondholder, said the move was part of a fight back by Russia’s central bank and finance ministry “to fend off default and stabilise markets and the rouble”.

Ash said the United States’ Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which enforces U.S. sanctions, “should make clear” it will not extend a deadline of May 25 for U.S. individuals or entities to receive payments on Russian sovereign bonds.

Russia’s finance ministry said in its statement on Tuesday that bondholders should submit requests to sell their holdings to the National Settlement Depository between 1300 GMT on March 29 and 1400 GMT on March 30.

SECURING PAYMENT

A fund manager said the ministry’s offer might be designed to help Russian investors secure payment because Euroclear, an international settlement system, had been blocking dollar payments to the Russian clearing system.

“Everybody wants dollars right now – in and outside Russia – so I would assume that only local holders and local banks that have issues with sanctions will make use of this operation,” said Kaan Nazli, portfolio manager at Neuberger Berman, which recently reduced its exposure to Russian sovereign debt.

Nazli, who said he had not previously seen a buyback that switched the repayment currency, added that foreign investors were unlikely to be interested given the rouble “is no longer a convertible currency.”

The rouble initially crumbled after the West imposed sanctions, plunging as much as 40% in value against the dollar since the start of 2022. It has since recovered and was trading down about 10% in Moscow on Tuesday.

The finance ministry did not provide a breakdown of foreign and Russian holders of the Eurobond-2022. It did not respond to a request about how much of the outstanding $2 billion it wanted to buy back or what would happen if investors refused the offer.

The bond has a 30-day grace period and no provisions for payments in alternative currencies, JPMorgan said.

According to Refinitiv database eMAXX, which analyses public filings, major asset managers such as Brandywine, Axa, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, BlackRock were recently among the holders of the bond coming due on April 4.

The finance ministry had said earlier on Tuesday it had fully paid a $102 million coupon on Russia’s Eurobond due in 2035, its third payout since Western sanctions called into question Moscow’s ability to service its foreign currency debt.

Russian sovereign debt repayments have so far gone through, staving off a default, although sanctions have frozen a chunk of Moscow’s huge foreign reserves. Russian officials have said any problem with payment that led to a formal declaration of default would be an artificial default.

Russia’s next payment is on March 31 when a $447 million payment falls due. On April 4, it also should pay $84 million in coupon a 2042 sovereign dollar bond

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Despite warnings from credit-rating agencies, the government has so far sidestepped a default and continues to service its foreign bonds after sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine severed Russia from the global financial system. Capital controls and restrictions imposed by the world’s biggest settlement systems have complicated and delayed the arrival of funds on previous payments for foreign and local investors alike.  

“For the Finance Ministry, this reduces potential amount of foreign currency payments, which is also desirable for them,” Donets said. “The absolute majority of the local holders will use this option. No one is talking about a full shift to paying in rubles for all Russia eurobonds.” Earlier on Tuesday, the Finance Ministry said it had made a $102 million coupon payment on a dollar bond maturing in 2035. 

The buyback offer comes after the ministry filed notifications on Monday for an “interest payment” and “principal repayment” on the $2 billion of dollar-denominated debt due on April 4. It also filed a notification for a coupon on bonds due in April 2042. 

The Treasury Department issued a general license on March 2 that allows U.S. persons to receive bond payments from the central bank of Russia through May 25, further draining the country’s resources as it prosecutes a war in Ukraine, according to a Treasury spokesperson. Questions about where exactly the funds were being drawn were referred to the central bank of Russia.

Foreign bondholders of Russian steelmaker Novolipetsk Steel received coupon payments due March 21 on time, while local noteholders didn’t receive them, the company said in a statement a week ago. Two days later, an overdue interest payment on a sovereign Eurobond began to show up in some overseas investors’ accounts. 

“The government wants to remove the risk of default due to technical payment issues,” said Cristian Maggio, head of portfolio strategy at Toronto Dominion Bank in London. 

Despite the uncertainties, the ruble has strengthened in 13 of the past 14 trading sessions in Moscow, paring most of the 33% decline that it incurred in onshore trading from late February through early March. The rebound is a result of central bank policies, such as capital controls, that enforce buying and limit selling the ruble, said Natalie Rivett, senior emerging-market analyst at Informa Global Markets Ltd.

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