Dear Dollar Stretcher,
For many, this is the first time that they've faced a tough economy. They find themselves in unfamiliar territory. Fighting an unfamiliar foe.
They're instincts are right. Some rules are different now. How the game is played has been altered. So it's important to know what tools are likely to work. And, which ones are likely to fail. So let's study some of the do's and don'ts for surviving tough times.
Do plan for the future. In tough times it's more important than ever to make plans. If you think that you could lose your job in six months, you'll want to implement a plan that will allow you to have some savings ready six months from now.
Don't worry about the future. Worry will not change the future. Nor will it give you an advantage in handling it. In fact, by adding to your stress level worrying will probably make you less able to handle any future crisis.
Do consider your partner's feelings. Their job may be in jeopardy or already lost. Along with the job went some of their self esteem. Right now they can use some encouragement from you. In fact, you are in the best place to help them overcome the crisis. Because you're close to them your opinion is more valuable. So if you believe in them, it's easier for them to believe in themself.
Don't blame your partner for financial difficulties. Even if you really think that the problem is their fault. There will be plenty of time to determine what went wrong later. In a cooler environment. Pointing your finger at your partner now will only cause them to become defensive. It's very hard, if not impossible, to understand the problem and possible solutions when you are both lobbing verbals missles across a no man's land.
Do avoid unnecessary expenses. Even if you're sure your job is not in jeopardy, it's still a good idea to cut expenses. It's healthy for everyone to look carefully at how they spend money on a regular basis. Few of us do it. Most of us just assume that money will take care of itself. It doesn't. Use this time to eliminate expenses that are not necessities. Even if you don't need to cut expenses. When you re-start that cable TV (or whatever the luxury is) in six months, you'll appreciate it that much more.
Don't kid yourself about what's really necessary. It's easy to assume that just because you've always had two cars that they're both necessary. Maybe not. When you think necessities, think of food, shelter and the things you need to make a living. Everything that is not essential to your survival is really a luxury, not a necessity. Yes, you can allow yourself some latitude, but don't kid yourself. If you pretend that many luxuries are necessary, you could end up in serious financial trouble.
Do let others know that you're struggling financially. We all need help sometime in our lives. And, most of us are glad to help others when they need an assist. So ask for help. You'll be surprised at what opportunities are presented to you. When people know your situation their imaginations are put to work thinking of ways to help you. That's a powerful tool.
Don't hide your challenges. Losing your job in this economy is nothing to be ashamed of. The stigma is largely in your mind. Many good, hard-working people are unemployed. Your friends and acquaintances know this. Give them a chance to payback what they received in their time of need.
Do expect to survive the tough times. You'll handle hardships better if you expect to get through them. Even if you don't know how long they'll last, a belief in your ultimate success makes it easier to face today's challenges.
Don't give up. There is nothing to be gained by quitting. It will not make things any easier. In fact, quitting will only focus your thoughts on how it feels to be overcome by your situation. That will make it seem worse.
There's no doubt that times are tough for many people. There's not much you can do about that.
But how you react to these times is under your control. And, those reactions will make it easier or harder for you to survive them.
So being aware of your perspective and taking control of it could be the most important step to surviving these tough times.
Keep on Stretching those Dollars!
About the Author:
Gary Foreman is the editor of The Dollar Stretcher.com and newsletters. Not only does the site host thousands of articles on various ways to save money, but you'll also find a vibrant forum where people share their dollar stretching ideas. You can also follow Gary on Twitter.