Wall Street Woes: Where to Put Your Cash

Toward that end, it is critical that consumers make their credit card payments on time. As they look to make up for mortgage losses, banks that issue credit cards are quicker than ever to raise your interest rates and impose a penalty fee if you're late with a payment. Given current conditions, that situation is unlikely to change anytime soon.

If you're juggling more than one credit card with a balance, find a way to either consolidate the debts or pay off one of the cards outright. The more cards you juggle, the greater your chances you will mess up.

Finally, every consumer and investor should brace themselves for changes in the financial institutions they do business with.

Bank Customers

If you're a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch customer, there's a good chance the people you deal with and the offices you frequent will change in the months ahead as these financial giants merge.

Regardless of whether you're satisfied with the service you've received, it might be time to revisit your own banking and financial relationships.

And even if you're not a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch customer, you very well could be affected in the future as more financial sector mergers and takeovers are likely in the months ahead.

On this issue and others, the key is to be prepared to respond in a rational way rather than panic.

This work is the opinion of the columnist, and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

David McPherson is founder and principal of Four Ponds Financial Planning (www.fourpondsfinancial.com) in Falmouth, Mass. He previously worked as a financial writer and editor for The Providence Journal in Rhode Island. He is a member of the Garrett Planning Network, whose members provide financial advice to clients on an hourly, as-needed basis. Contact McPherson at david@fourpondsfinancial.com.

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