1. Bury your head in the sand. Given the doom and gloom of the news lately, it’s hard to blame anyone who wants to turn off the TV and just tune out the news for the next 12 months. But while hibernation works for a bear, it won’t work in this bear market. Now is not the time to be blissfully ignorant of what’s going on. Right now IS the time to stick to the boring basics of personal finance: get out of high-interest debt, refrain from taking on new debt, and start, or add to, your emergency fund.
2. Fall for scams that seem too good to be true. It’s an unfortunate fact of life: when there are big changes and uncertainties going on, there will be unscrupulous people out to take advantage of the situation. If a mortgage company or a debt consolidation firms offers you terms that seem too good to be true – beware! Do your own due diligence and make sure you’re not being taken for a ride. Remember, no one will care more about your money than you do.
3. Be afraid to ask for help. If you find yourself falling behind in your mortgage, or if your credit card interest rates are too high, reach out to these companies BEFORE you default or fail to make the minimum payments. It’s in the companies’ (and your credit score’s) best interest to reach a deal. On a more personal level, if Thursday happy hours and Sunday brunches are hitting your wallet a tad too hard, speak up! Arrange a dinner at home with girlfriends instead of heading to town, or start an office potluck if you think coworkers might be interested. You will be helping your wallet, and probably other people’s as well.
4. Neglect your personal and emotional health. The recession and layoffs have been hard on many families. In taking care of your financial health, it’s important to also look after your emotional health. If you are feeling so anxious about the economy that it is negatively impacting your life, it may be time to seek out a professional (many therapists have sliding-scale fee structures) or at least talk to a friend. But if you are having suicidal thoughts, please get help immediately.
Do you have any advice on what NOT to do in this economy? Share in the comments!
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