Hard Times Never Last: Your Financial Recovery Can Start Now
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It is as if we are facing a difficult period of extremes. Floods classified as 1,000-year events in addition to record heat. Prices are rising due to the worst inflation spurt in four decades. A persistent global pandemic that still impacts daily life.
Many of us are in dire need of a financial solution. Cash is low and costs are high.
So let’s dive into a quiet corner and begin the healing process.
Let’s first consider the noise we face. Tragic world events are a smartphone notification away. Our social networks are relentless. Humans have never been bombarded with so much instant information, viral or otherwise.
It’s OK to cut the mania. Reduce or eliminate these news alerts. Set screen time limits on your most distracting apps. Allocate blocks of phone-free time in your day.
Instead, prioritize your personal circumstances and current needs over bearing the brunt of the myriad planetary issues. You can access it later.
In the meantime, here are some ways to regain your financial sanity.
Review recent spending, then cut ruthlessly
First, take a close look at your cash flow. Money coming in. Money out. The fastest way to establish financial security – and your peace of mind – is to have a nice amount of money on hand each month. To do this, you first need to know where your money is going. You could try this free budget calculator to get started if you don’t have a budget yet.
So far, inflation is costing us an extra $1,000 a month. That’s a national average, but no wonder we’re all feeling a little tense right now, right? Like everyone else, I cut extra expenses to try and recoup some of that money:
I cut a few software subscriptions I could do without.
I stopped ordering so much meal delivery and reduced my dining out. Additional benefit: lost a few pounds.
I stuck to a shopping list at the grocery store instead of walking down every aisle and grabbing a bunch of things I didn’t need.
I will also call any credit card providers I have and ask a lower interest rate. I don’t plan on taking any balance with them, but now is a good time to ask for a fare break. And having lower rates is helpful if I need to rely on credit cards in an emergency.
Going through all the expenses I’ve made recently, line by line, I’ve found enough to save a few hundred dollars each month. It was good. Small changes in financial behavior can recharge your mind. In fact, you might want to try these 22 ways to save money.
I also accumulate that extra money and more.
Money management made easy
NerdWallet tracks your income, bills, and shows you how to save more.
Don’t distort your view
Mortgage rates are the highest since 2009. The Nasdaq posts its first five-week losing streak since 2012.
It hasn’t been this hot since last Thursday.
What do these headlines – two real and one fake – have in common? They can distort our perspectives.
Little nuggets of information like these serve as anchors to help us mere humans try to find context in our lives. The problem is that a recency bias often distort our opinions. We measure everything discussed against the last time it happened.
“Stocks slide to lowest since March 2021,” according to a headline published about four months ago. Stepping back to get an overview of stock market history is just a snap. But the modern minute news media makes us think in small steps.
I saw another headline that said, “Why ThisStock is soaring today.” And the next day: “Why TheSameStock fell today.” This is short-term news.
True perspective requires a longer view than just when something last happened.
Remember, it’s just another cycle of life
Many things that we worry about have been higher or lower.
“I wish we had bought a house when mortgage rates were 3%.” Or bought bitcoin when it was $300. Remember when gas was less than $3? Less than a dollar?
This stuff can boil the juices out of your digestive system if you let it.
It also goes the other way. Maybe you bought Bitcoin for almost $69,000 at the end of last year. Now it’s almost $20,000. Ouch.
If you think mortgage rates are high at 6%, remember that perspective. The average rate for a 30-year mortgage over the past five decades is just under 8%.
People still bought houses when money was high. Ask anyone who bought a house when rates were in the teens. I did it. In years past, I’ve had mortgages with double-digit interest rates. But when rates dropped, I refinanced or bought another house with a lower mortgage rate.
To take a walk. Without listening to a podcast.
Play — hard — with friends, kids or a pet.
Take a day trip without spending.
Read a book or watch a movie.
Wash, rinse, spin, repeat. We are all going through another cycle of life.