The news is filled with stories of our changing world. Each day brings us new information about political upheaval and financial disarray worldwide.I would fail miserably as a political analyst. I don’t know if the protests in the Middle East will lead to better lives for the people in those countries, but I do know that the price of oil is going up because of those protests. Oil prices not only effect us at the gas pump, but for most of the goods and services that we use. Everything may work out well and the prices increases may be only temporary, or things may get much worse. When the going gets tough, the politicians get spinning. No one would want to hire me as a financial planner or an economist either. I certainly don’t have the solutions to our country’s budget problems and many of the states are also facing financial crises. Whenever new economic numbers are announced, politicians spin them to advance their viewpoint. Is the economy improving or is it headed for a giant collapse? The answer depends on what party the spokesperson belongs to and what channel you tune into on your TV.No matter which channel you listen to, it is obvious that there are problems and solutions need to be found. These problems did not happen overnight. Our leaders have seen them coming for years, but playing politics and getting re-elected took precedence over making decisions that would be unpopular with their constituents.Tough decisions which needed to be made years or decades ago have been put off in the hope that an easy solution would present itself, or left for future generations to make. I know from personal experience that when you delay making tough decisions the problems rarely go away. Usually the problems grow until you have no choice but to act and by that time your options have been severely reduced.All this news of doom and gloom can be very depressing. You could bury your head in the sand and not listen to or think about the news. Everything could work out just fine without you having to do anything but go about your normal life. The economy could turn around and the Dow might hit 20,000 by 2013. The new governments in the Middle East could become America’s best friends and gas prices might drop below $2 a gallon. You might hit the Powerball jackpot and not have to worry about the economy ever again. It could happen! But in case it doesn’t, maybe you should hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Are you ready to make the tough decisions? Many Americans are facing their own budget crisis. It might be the bad housing market, too much debt, out of control expenses or an unstable work situation which is causing your personal crises. Maybe your current situation is good, but you are concerned your situation could change quickly given the unstable economy and world situation. If this is true for you, then get your head out of the sand and take action while you still have time and options! What are my options? Now that you’ve decided that you need to take action, the question becomes what course of action do you need to take. I wish I could give you a checklist of things to do which would guarantee a positive outcome. If I were able to develop such an all-purpose checklist, lots of people would pay me to be their financial adviser. However, I can give you some general guidelines and direct you to some great resources to help you develop a plan of action.
Unsecured debt is usually bad. If you have credit card and store card debt, you should pay it off as quickly as possible. One of my favorite books on debt reduction is The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.
Turn a hobby or a passion of yours into a paying job. Find a way to make money doing something you love. Not only will you have fun doing it, but you will have another source of income to help pay off debt and to protect you if your current job situation changes.
Cut out unnecessary expenses and use the savings to pay off debt, start your own business, travel, and/or add to your emergency fund.
Clear the clutter from your life! Many of us have are owned by our possessions. They take up our time and our space. We also fill our lives with obligations and activities. Simplifying your life will give you the freedom to move or travel to where you want and the time to pursue your passions.The time for action is now. There are many resources available to help you protect yourself from the changing world. Be prepared.