by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.
Author’s program note. The Great Recession of so recent memory bit and bit deep according to a report released June 11, 2012 by the Federal Reserve. As a result the median US family in 2010 had no more wealth than it had in the early 1990s, erasing almost two DECADES of accumulated prosperity.
Before delving deeper into this plethora of shocking financial intelligence, I recommend a 1977 tune from the Bee Gees which appeared in the hit movie “Saturday Night Fever.” It’s called “Stayin’ Alive” and given the economic melt-down that has placed so many at such risk, we need to hear the Bee Gee’s message on surviving this mess. Go now to any search engine and play it loud…
“Whether you’re a brother or whether you’re a mother You’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive’ Feel the city breakin’ and everybody shakin’ I’m a-stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.”
This report, after detailing the grim news, will then follow up with one timely recommendation after another. The first is to let yourself go for a handful of therapeutic minutes and step high and strut proud along with the Bee Gees. The right attitude, after all, is essential to fighting back, flying high, and staying alive in style, not just scraping by.
The view from the median.
Imagine you are right smack dab in the middle of things, half the nation’s families have more than you do, half have less. If that’s you, you had a net worth of $77,300 in 2010, down from $126,400 in 2007, the Fed reported. What accounted for the bulk of this kick to the solar plexus? The crash in housing prices. This explained fully three-quarters of the loss.
Income fell, too.
Not only did your net worth plummet, but your income probably did, too. Median family income fell by 7.7 percent over the same period. It’s all spelled out in the triennial Survey of Consumer Finance, a major source of information on the financial health and well-being of US families. The latest report is based on data collected in 2010. Figures are reported in 2012 dollars.
Any good news?
Yes, there is some good news sprinkled among the bad, and we’ve got to take the gladdening when and where we can find it. First, households have made some limited progress in reducing the amount they owe to lenders. The share of households reporting any debt declined by 2.1 percent over the past three years, but 74.9 percent still owe something and the median amount of debt did not change. The second piece of good news is that interest rates fell dramatically and have stayed low. Smart mortgage holders have taken advantage of this situation to reduce debt payments by refinancing into mortgages with longer terms and also deferring repayment of student loans.
Mistakes you’re probably making.
Okay, you limped through the recession and figure you owe yourself some really good times, a spree or two. You earned them, right? Sadly, this is a good example of post-recession America think where we as a nation are saving less and skipping debt retirement, using limited funds to party. This is the precise thinking that got us into the whopping mess in the first place.
What you should be doing instead.
Getting out of debt and increasing financial security starts in your mind. You must decide these objectives are valuable and that you’ll do what’s necessary to get them. Thus your track to financial comfort starts with your attitude, for as I like to say, “Your attitude determines your altitude.”
Check list for soaring.
1) Take a sharp, detailed look at your financial situation. What are your assets? How much debt are you carrying? Is this situation acceptable to you? Do this now, and do it at regular intervals, say quarterly. Be patient, thorough, and painstaking.
2) Involve the family. These days the “father knows best” approach to family finances is as old as the hills. Thus, unless you’re single and have no responsibilities beyond yourself, call a family meeting and look together at your situation. Families which work together towards a common objective, not only have a higher likelihood of reaching that objective; they will function better as a family overall.
3) Review expenses. Is there any way to cut them? Here, again, being thorough is the key. You must account for every penny, for after all “a penny saved, is a penny earned”.
4) Put off major expenses whenever possible. Do you really need to incur them now? See if there is any way to negotiate better prices before you commit. Sure, you’d like the new this and very latest that, but is that purchase absolutely necessary?
5) Save 10% of your income and treat such investment as an invoice to be handled as such. Create a computer stationery file that you fill out each month. Complete it, give it to yourself and pay it as you would any invoice, with this crucial difference; that this invoice is always paid first.
6) Destroy all but one credit card. One is quite enough. Many cards encourage excess spending. If you have two cards, you will use two cards. And this is inimical to your new system. You require credit, yes; but that credit must be rigidly controlled.
7) Pay down your credit cards. Make this an urgent priority. Your goal must be monthly diminishment of your credit balance. No credit card balance should be permitted to go month after month without reduction. Sacrifice may be necessary to accomplish this objective. Bite this bullet and live with it. As they say in muscle-making circles, “no pain, no gain”.
8) Stop all “spontaneous” purchases. Make every purchase the result of reflection and deliberation. ALL impulse purchases must be disallowed.
Your mantra, “defer, cut, save, pay off”.
If you live by these five words you will see your wealth increase… and with it your confidence, peace of mind, and ability to live ever more closely to your dreams. These will be the lyrics of your past:
“Life’s going’ no where, somebody help me Somebody help me, yeah.”
These of your future:
“Got the wings of heaven on my shoes I’m a dancin’ man, and I just can’t lose You know, it’s all right, it’s okay I’ll live to see another day.”
And so you will, in comfort, serenity, and plenitude. The way life should be.
About the Author
Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today at http://www.Worldprofit.com
Author: Jeffrey LantThis author has published 572 articles so far. More info about the author is coming soon.