Making Changes in Tough Times: How Can You Get Ahead When You Can Barely Stay Afloat?
Have you seen the headlines?
“Recession Is Over According to Financial Experts” – ABC News
“Recession is Very Likely Over” – Market Watch
“The Recession is Over” – Forbes.com
“The recession? It’s Over, Economist Says” – MSN Money
“Really?” Brandy asks, looking around her toy strewn living room. “Because my husband still doesn’t have a job, and the best I’ve been able to do is cleaning houses. My best friend was just told that she can either move to Detroit and take a pay loss or sign up for unemployment. And my mom got forced into early retirement with half the pension she was expecting.
“Where is this big recovery in the economy I keep hearing about?”
Brandy isn’t alone in asking. While economists celebrate, many people are still struggling to pay their mortgages and pay their rent. Consumer spending fell 0.5 percent in September, and we learned this week that the unemployment rate hit 10.2 percent.
Brandy knows that to get out of this situation and ensure a brighter financial future, it’s critical that she and her husband focus on making changes in their approach to money. “I watched your Making Money is Fun videos,” she tells me. “My Core Desire is to make sure we are never this vulnerable to the ups and downs of the economy again. But I’m scratching to pay my electric bill – I’ve got nothing to leverage!”
This is where I had to disagree with Brandy. It’s true that there are people in the world who are truly living hand to mouth – living under a corrugated tin roof and counting on strangers to bring them bowls of rice to fill their bellies. There’s an old saying, “Of whom much is given, much is expected.” Brandy, believe it or not, is one of those people. As you are. As I am.
The definition of “poor” in the U.S. and all developed nations tends to be very different from the corrugated/rice bowl version. The truth is that while unemployment and worries about bills are very stressful and destructive, most of us still have untapped resources.
If you’ve already watched the Making Money is Fun Videos, you’ve probably already guessed one of Brandy’s resources: her house cleaning business. Although most businesses are suffering a downturn, professional home cleaners are continuing to stay afloat in many regions. Brandy takes pride in her work, and has more requests than she can keep up with. I suggested she leverage her time by hiring helpers and training them to meet her exacting standards.
“But what,” you may be asking, “does this have to do with me? I don’t clean houses!”
Take out your magnifying glass – it’s time to find your untapped resources. Do you have:
- A large unused lot of land? Rent it out for out-of-season recreational vehicle storage?
- A postage stamp collection that grandpa left you? Find a reliable collector and sell it.
- Two free mornings a week? Use them to start the home business you’ve always dreamed of on a small scale.
- Bulky antique furniture stashed in your basement? Sell it and make the money work for you in a way that maple credenza never did?
- A talent or expertise you neglect – singing, photography, writing, word-working, an exhaustive knowledge of WWII battles? When Janene Snyder of Eudora, KS was faced with her husband’s unemployment and her own job uncertainty, she set about making changes by turning her love of garage sales into a $4000/year bonus. So give your own talent or expertise four or five hours a week and see what it can bring you.
The key to success in leveraging these unused resources it not only tap them, but apply the benefit toward building the future you want. In other words, if you sell your amazing nutrolls to co-workers over the holidays, don’t use the money to buy more extravagant Christmas gifts. Leverage the money by putting it toward making permanent changes in your financial outlook. Invest it in education, resources, or people that will make you money.
Has the economy recovered? In the Money magazine article “Earth to Economists,” David Rosenberg, chief economist at Gluskin Sheff, is quoted as saying, “Only economists see the recession as being over; the man on the street sees it a little differently.” So does that mean, sit tight and keep your head down, because this is no time to be making changes?
No. Refusing to change your strategy will be as devastating to your future as making a radical change without doing your research. So start analyzing the corners of your life and make a list of possible untapped resources. But don’t make any major decisions yet – not until you read my next blog about due diligence!
If you want to learn more about making changes by leveraging your time, influence and money to build the future you crave, the Making Money is Fun videos will get you started – telling you everything you need to know about leveraging and giving you the run down on the various investment options out there. Find out what two investment options I think are the best for most people in this rocky economy!