Easing the Pinch
Updated: May 19
The media reports on the debt ceiling stalemate with an almost juvenile enthusiasm. There are predictions about the impending recession and the word "catastrophic" is regularly used to describe what is to come. The retail apocalypse has been underway for over a decade and is the result of a change in shopping preferences. Consumers are leaving the malls for the convenience of online shopping. Retail is being remade and the transformation is far from complete. The collapse of a bank generates waves of panic throughout the sector. Banking is about confidence and the stakes are significantly higher when large, prominent banks become insolvent. Shuttered stores and failed banks are the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface is the harsh reality that gets glossed over.
These events aren't new, they're decades in the making. The truth is obscured under layers of questionable decisions, self-interest, and politics. The sadder, tragic truth is that greed and intransigence drive so many of the crises that wreak havoc on the lives of hundreds of thousands families as they lose their livelihood, their security, and their homes.
Granted, us mere mortals have very little control over what happens in the corridors of power and few of the problems we face as a nation have quick, simple solutions. However, we're far from helpless. Below are some action items to help blunt the effects of an economic downturn as well as reducing stress. This list isn't meant to be all-inclusive nor am I suggesting that you rid yourself of all of your worldly possessions and live in a cave. Everyone's situation is different so do what you can.
If you're not already setting aside food and water for an emergency, get after it!
Watch for sales featuring deep discounts on the emergency supplies you need and remember, pay with cash!
If you don't have a support system, get after it.
Free up cash by prioritizing the paying off of high interest, outstanding debt.
Minimize your use of credit.
Top off your cache of cash.
Get ahead on bills by paying a month or two in advance, if possible.
Down-size your life, if the time is right.
Critically evaluate large, nonessential purchases.
Review your investments and long-term financial goals with your financial planner. Time in the market is more important than trying to time the market.
Pursue hobbies and activities that require little to no money.
Limit your consumption of negative news. It only creates stress and anxiety.
Test the effectiveness of your family's emergency communication's plan. This is a good time to create a plan if you don't already have one.
Review your family's evacuation plan and update as necessary. This is a good time to create a plan if you don't have one already.
Identify the food, gear, equipment, and services you'd be willing to barter with others in a crisis.
If you're able, consider gardening as a means of reducing your food costs and increasing your food security.
The time to act is now and, as always, careful, focused planning goes a long way to easing discomfort in difficult times.