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Morici: As Fed Meets, Ordinary Folks Should Trim Spending

Overall, the stock market will be challenged to continue rallying. Ordinary investors should greet with great skepticism broker calls about can't miss opportunities. Most stock prices move with general trends in the market, and the opportunity your broker hails will have to be so good that it won't likely be offered to ordinary retail investors. The big shots on Wall Street will keep those hot prospects for themselves and the carriage trade -- families big enough to be companies in their own right.

Recent retail sales reports indicate the average family has been abandoning caution. The percentage of household income devoted to saving, never high in America, is now lower than a snake's belly.

This is a good time to rethink the family budget. If you have credit card debt, pay it down as quickly as you can.

If you really need a larger home and are confident you can sell the home you own, and your job is very stable, this may be the best time to buy and lock in a mortgage rate you may not see again for a long time.

If you really need a home improvement loan -- for example, much needed repairs you can't do yourself or another room for the twins that unexpectedly arrived -- now is the time.

Don't borrow that money for a bigger SUV than you need or don't need at all, or another wide screen TV. Sedans, older vehicles and smaller monitors will be cool again when interest rates surge.

It's time to reflect on the lessons of the Great Recession. Families that are thrifty and only use credit for good purposes keep their homes from foreclosure, send their kids to college -- without piling up excessive debt -- and sleep better at night.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Professor Peter Morici, of the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, is a recognized expert on economic policy and international economics. Prior to joining the university, he served as director of the Office of Economics at the U.S. International Trade Commission. He is the author of 18 books and monographs and has published widely in leading public policy and business journals, including the Harvard Business Review and Foreign Policy. Morici has lectured and offered executive programs at more than 100 institutions, including Columbia University, the Harvard Business School and Oxford University. His views are frequently featured on CNN, CBS, BBC, FOX, ABC, CNBC, NPR, NPB and national broadcast networks around the world.
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