Guest Author - Dianne Walker
The elections felt like they lasted a lifetime. While they may be over, the ramifications either good or bad will continue for the next few years to come. So where are we now? Our lives probably have not changed too much in the last week or so since the elections. If we were looking for jobs, weíre probably still looking for jobs. If our budget was super tight (or non-existent), that probably hasnít changed much either. Being realistic, we should realize that things may or may not happen around January 20th so letís shift our focus for a moment. We need to figure out what we can do with those things that we have immediate control over.
When we are sitting at our desk, being unemployed seems like a very difficult concept to wrap our arms around. Will we be able to afford the mortgage? Will we have money to put the food on the table? For myself, I just replaced my broken furnace last year with the famous ď12 months same as cashĒ financing. Well itís time to start making those payments and it sends shivers throughout my entire body trying to figure out where to get an extra $200 per month. So what do we do now?
The first thing we need to do is take a quick gut check and realize that we are not alone in this situation. As you read the newspapers, youíve undoubtedly noticed that unemployment rates are hitting crazy levels that we have not seen in over a decade. A snapshot of this moment shows the unemployment rate at a staggering 6.5%. Over 240,000 jobs were lost during the month of October. When you look at the numbers, itís enough to throw even the most die-hard into maximum stress overdrive. The numbers are rising and experts predict that they will continue to rise. Hopefully, just like gas prices, everything else will start to level off to more manageable levels.
Letís turn our focus away from the numbers for a minute and focus on the most important person at the moment Ė you. I can already hear the complaints being fired in my direction already. ďIíve got a familyĒ. ďI donít have any incomeĒ. Take a second to think on this with me. If you donít take a moment to focus on yourself and find a way to reduce your stress level, what good are you going to be to your loved ones?
Monetarily this may not be a good time to join a gym, but it is time to take stock of your physical health. Visit your doctor while youíre still on a health plan. Do some exercise; it doesnít need to be at a fancy gym. Walking is free for everybody and depending on what route you walk, itís great to enjoy the fall foliage. Lift some weights. You donít have the expensive weights; we all have heavy cans or laundry detergent bottles somewhere in the house. Even heavy mind-numbing chores, like cleaning out the garage, can be strangely therapeutic at reliving stress, while getting much needed exercise.
Physical strength is not the only area we need to focus on, but we should also focus on our mental and spiritual health. The libraries are a great place to check out free material and attend free programs. Check out your local library for seminars on financial fitness, budgeting, even book clubs and crafts. They have many activities for all age ranges. Our local library also offers basic computer training classes for a $10 registration fee. If you actually show up for the class, you get your $10 back before you walk out the door at the end. Your local library is more than about just reading.
Support groups and networking can also be beneficial. If you do an Internet search of groups meeting in the topics that you are interested in, you will find a wealth of information. Connecting with other individuals in your situation will help you feel so not alone. If you think outside the cubicle, there are also organizations in support of the troops where you can pick up a pen-pal. If you make someone elseís day, your day will seem rosy pink in comparison.
The goal is to realize that if we are going to combat the financial enemy while we are unemployed we need to have the mental strength and physical capacity to do so. The national and state facts and figures will change as they may. Itís important that you carve out a little time for you so that lifeís circumstances do not take too heavy a toll. Whether we have dependents or not, we still need to be strong enough to weather the tropical storm headed our way.