We live in uncertain economic times.
No one knows what will happen next. Between a difficult job market, a housing sector that refuses to recover, and Europe on the brink of complete financial disaster, it’s easy to feel anxious about your money.
Will we see another recession? Could things turn around and be great? Are a eurozone collapse and slowing growth in China about to dump us into another global financial crisis? While you want to be prepared for the possibility of economic problems, it’s not a good idea to let fear rule you.
Once you let fear master you, you start making very poor decisions based on that fear.
Whether it’s making a bad investment decision, a risky business choice, or sabotaging your relationships, fear and anxiety can lead to problems in your finances and your life.
Before you let your worries about economic uncertainty turn into a full-blown financial emergency, it’s a good idea to take a deep breath, step back, and consider these 5 tips to helping you cope with the uncertainties that come in an economy like what we’re seeing now:
Tips to Help You Deal With Economic Uncertainty
1. Stop Thinking in Absolute Terms
When your think that your only options are either-or, you run into trouble.
Too often, we are drawn to extremes in cases of uncertainty. We tend to think that everything’s going to be ok, or that everything’s going to be a disaster.
The truth is probably somewhere in between.
Don’t think in absolutes. Rarely are events all good or all bad. Look for the opportunities in difficulties, and temper your tendency toward euphoria with a dose of reality. You’ll feel better about the situation, and make more measured decisions, if you don’t assume that something is the end of the world.
2. Make a Plan
Most of us feel better when we have a plan.
An idea of what you will do can really calm your nerves and help you deal with the uncertainties of the current economic situation. We don’t like to think about what we would do if a loved one died, or what would happen in the event of a job loss.
However, these are situations that need to be considered. Think about what sources of income you could turn to, from unemployment benefits to your emergency fund. Consider which expenses you could cut first, like the cable or the gym membership.
When you know what you would do, it helps calm your anxious nerves.
3. Take Steps Now to Shore Up Your Finances
Along with planning what you would do in a hypothetical situation, you can also take concrete steps now to improve your financial situation.
Build up your emergency fund now, while your situation is pretty good. Prioritize your spending and cut out some of the non-essentials that contribute to waste. Consider creating home food storage, or growing some of your own food. Pay down some of your debt.
Just knowing that you are taking steps to be more financially sound can help keep fear at bay.
4. Surround Yourself with Positive People
It’s easy to get caught in a negative spiral.
I remember one time when my husband and his mother were together. They’re both great people, but they’re also both prone to anxiety. Pretty soon, they were feeding off each other, becoming more worried by the minute. A situation that wasn’t even very serious soon because a big deal because of their shared anxiety.
You can help ease your own worries by surrounding yourself with people that are less anxious than you.
While I wouldn’t recommend cutting out all the anxious people out of your life, you can still add more people who are a little more laid back to your circle. Talk to someone who can calm you, and look to your support system for help calming some of your more irrational fears.
5. Take Care of Yourself
Don’t forget to take care of yourself.
It’s easier to become worried when you aren’t getting enough sleep, and when your health is on a downslope. We make poor decisions when we feel tired and it’s easier to become discouraged by the economic news bombarding you when you aren’t in good health.
Remember to eat healthy, and to exercise. Get enough sleep. Relax a little. Take some time each day to yourself. When you take care of yourself, you will be in a better position to make better decisions, as well as cope with your concerns. It’s easier to feel optimistic when you are physically healthy and on top of the situation.