Surviving the Economic Meltdown
NOTE: Here’s a secular article I’ve submitted to my local paper. Feel free to adapt it in any way that is useful to you.
People are getting laid off. Men can’t find jobs. People are taking pay reductions. Budgets are getting slashed. Home values have plummeted. Investments have gone up in smoke.
And that’s just in my family.
We’re in an economic meltdown of freakish proportions. A new survey reveals that 150 million adults are noticeably affected by the economic meltdown—22% in a major way. Most expect it to take several years for the nation to recover.
We’re all asking the same question: “How can I survive the current crisis?” Maybe you’ve lost your job—or fear it. Maybe you’ve watched your investments or paycheck shrink. Perhaps your business is way off. Or maybe you’re “okay, ” but still worry how it’s all going to play out.
I’m the survivor of an economic meltdown. When Congress passed the Tax Reform Act of 1986, liquidity vanished, car dealers closed, the Savings and Loan industry was liquidated, many insurance companies failed, and businesspeople like me had trouble making ends meet.
Every day for the seven years, I didn’t know if I would be forced into bankruptcy. It’s a long story, but I was able to avoid bankruptcy. Here are some survival strategies that worked for me then, and can work for you now.
Strategy 1: Get out of debt. You cannot borrow your way out of a problem that you borrowed your way into. Here’s an idea that often gets overlooked: It takes more energy to earn a living and service debt than to just earn a living. Debt is dumb. Getting out of debt is “do-or-die.” My strategy for overcoming debt was simple. I made “getting out of debt” my overarching goal. I knew that to survive, I had to get out of debt. So do you.
Strategy 2: Remain accessible. Many people in financial straits dodge calls, don’t return calls, don’t do what they promise, and miss deadlines. This creates a fantastic opportunity for you to distinguish yourself and get some mercy. Don’t wait for creditors to call you—call them, and if they do call—pick up the phone. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Strategy 3: Stay in touch with friends. One of your biggest tendencies in a meltdown is to withdraw from your friends—to go it alone and not want others to know your struggles. When you’re in a funk you have an overwhelming urge to pull the covers over your head and disappear. You simply can’t do that and survive. Sure, friends will let you down. You have to decide between imperfect fellowship and perfect isolation.
Strategy 4: Live “within” your means. People either live “above,” “at,” “within,” or “below” their means. If you’ve been living “above” or “at” your means, it’s time for a change. How? The first step is to get out of denial that you are not living within your means. Frankly, denial is a much stronger force than most people understand. Denial means that you actually believe a story that you’ve made up—a lie.
We live in unexampled times. The world’s best and brightest are trying to fix this, but human ingenuity alone probably will not be enough. It would send a great message if the President-Elect said in his inaugural address, “I would like to call our nation to humbly ask God for His wisdom, mercy, and intervention.” In any event, you should go ahead and do that now.
Patrick Morley, PhD, is the author of 16 books. His most recent book is How to Survive the Economic Meltdown.