Hearing about how bad the U.S. and world economies are is inevitable. We are constantly reminded of things like the poor housing market, diminishing retirement portfolios, rising unemployment and failing companies. Inflation is causing many to feel as if they are in a financial vice. To make matters worse, we are told that things are likely to get worse before they improve. No wonder that more and more of us are experiencing increased emotional unrest.
Feeling powerless over what is going on in the world intensifies our distress. But there are things we can do to minimize the impact of difficult financial times on our emotional and psychological well being.
First, make an effort to practice basic stress management techniques on a daily basis. These include but are not limited to: eating well, getting adequate sleep, exercising on a regular basis and finding an outlet to talk about your thoughts and feelings.
Secondly, despite your powerlessness over global economics, look for ways to gain control over your personal finances. It is recommended that one of the most important things you can do during uncertain economic times is to establish an accessible “emergency cash reserve”. This seems daunting to many, because so many of us live paycheck to paycheck, but you would be surprised with how a little effort, creativity and ingenuity can lead to some significant monthly and yearly savings.
Some recommended tips include:
1. Keep a log of daily, weekly and monthly expenditures and look for opportunities to cut out “non-essentials”.
2. Purchase generic brands at supermarket.
3. Utilize newspaper coupons
4. Contact utility companies, especially those regarding services like cable and phone services and inquire about cheaper plans.
5.When shopping, go with a list of exactly what you need and stick to that list. Avoid impulse buying.
6. Unplugging all electrical items when not in use can save hundreds of dollars/year.
7. Use cash whenever possible. Paying w/ credit cards often increases the cost of your purchases and encourages us to buy more than we need or can afford.
8. Pay bills on time and when possible on-line.
9. Be aware that many of us spend more when we are under increased stress. Look for healthier ways to deal w/ your feelings.
10. Do a house cleaning and look for unused items you can sell on line or at a tag sale.
11. When possible take advantage of any opportunities to increase household income streams.