Working in business development and marketing for a real estate-based business, I can't help but keep one eye on the news and a finger on the pulse of the economy.
I think it's safe to report that the news isn't great and our financial pulse is most definitely raised! While it's cause for some overall concern and caution, I have to confess that in my personal life I'm not panicking.
Markets go up and markets go down. Businesses are regulated because they can't do the right thing. Businesses are deregulated because government can't do the right thing.
And to a certain extent, Joe Citizen has to pay the consequences for the actions of others via layoffs, taxes and the like.
Through all of this, we have a choice. We can be victims, blaming "them" for our problems, or we can accept some share of the blame ourselves. You see, I believe one thing that makes our country great is our long-held philosophy that we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. The rub comes when we expect others to hand us our boots and pull our bootstraps up for us.
So, knowing that hard times of one sort or another are surely coming - today or in 10 years - here are some ideas for avoiding personal financial stress:
- Stop watching the news 24/7. Life doesn't really change that fast.
- Spend less than you make.
- Save what you don't spend.
- If you are person of faith, pay the church first and yourself second, then everyone else.
- Buy what you need and learn to say no to some of the stuff you simply want.
- Understand the difference between a want and a need.
- Turn your brain on in stores - they have their best interest in mind, not yours.
- Know what is a bargain versus what is just a really good marketing campaign.
- Think long-term instead of short-term (total cost versus price per month).
- Just like food diaries help when you want to lose weight, writing down what you spend can help you understand - and control - how you use your money.
- You can buy something tomorrow instead of today. Your life will not be over.
- "Everyone else is..." and "Everyone else has..." are not valid reasons for making buying decisions. You have a brain. Use it.
- Just because your parents and grandparents have "it" doesn't mean you can have "it" now, too. They worked a long time to get what they have. Be prepared to do the same.