So I know a lot of people are concerned about the state of the world and our own United States right now. Which is understandable. But none of us are dead in the water yet, even if it might look like it or even if the news scares you. If you’re not worried, that is excellent. For others out there who are easily moved by what they’re seeing or hearing: don't panic. It’s not a great situation right now, and we’re all concerned to some degree about everything happening, but you gotta stay calm.
The media and the men in power are not your friends
One thing you have to keep in mind is that through all this inflation and fears of recession, neither the media, the Federal Reserve, or the government are your friends. And none of them really care about you or me. What they do love though is that you are panicked about things. Especially the media.
Whether people want to believe it or not, our media preys on the public’s concerns and consumer worries. They pretend to understand our pain, but are also driving an agenda of fear. When Americans are afraid they will start buying more out of panic, that's one of our society's biggest flaws. They did it when the Colonial gas line was hacked last summer. Driving panic and fear makes the corporations richer. It also is used by people in high positions as a distraction from the things they’re really doing.
The media loves talking more about the bad than the good, because they know that psychologically the human mind - which is our flaw - is impacted by and gravitates more towards bad news, and because it gives them an audience. I’ve even stopped checking the morning news reports on the stock market and gas prices because for one, everyone is talking too much about things even they don’t fully know about and can’t really predict, so reporters are nervous and jump to any story they get, and two, because when you do hear some good news, you’re still met by the negative headlines like “Gas prices are falling, but don’t expect it to last,” "Why lowering gas prices isn't that simple," or “Dow jumps 100 points, but recession fears still loom.” It’s basically the media wanting to control our emotions and the way we think.
Am I saying that inflation, gas prices, or a recession fear are invalid, ridiculous, or not something to be worried about? Not at all. They are very, very possible and something we should keep our eyes on and be concerned about, but at the same time we can’t allow ourselves to panic and become too pessimistic. All kinds of crazy and unusual things are happening this year to all of us, and around the world. But you can’t lose hope and can’t become depressed or frightened by bad news and bad situations.
How to survive
None of us can control Wall Street, the housing market, gas corporations, the job market, or inflation. But we can control how it will affect us. And the way to do that is the age old trick that never fails: watch your money, save your money. It sounds like a broken record, but it really is the answer to survival. But believe it or not there is an enormous number of people who are not disciplined about this and some who’ve even admitted to me that they don’t save money and don’t know how to. A lot of people also have bad habits with their credit cards, and get themselves into harder situations. And still others have the attitude that they’ll worry about taking a hit later - “cross that bridge when I get there” - instead of taking steps at present to prepare for any later hits.
Strategies like shopping at lower cost stores, buying in bulk at Costco, skipping take-out more, downgrading your Internet service to lower mbps so your bill will be lower, are all great especially if you are a person who really does not have a lot of wiggle room for much more than what your income or circumstances will allow, but putting money aside is still just as powerful and effective. Even if all you save is $10 or $25 a week, that is a big help that you might not think means anything right now but 5 months down the road that $200 or $500 you saved on the side helps you pay an electric bill, buy food and baby formula, or might even help you get your car fixed in an unexpected break down. Plan for the future. Too many Americans live for the present pleasures but are not financially wise. Anything can happen in life at any time, and you need to be prepared for it as much as possible.
So take that $10 or $25 and put it in your little safe at home or in a savings account. Don’t leave it as extra in your main account, doing that will just make you think you have some dollars to spend. Be disciplined and put it somewhere else, and don’t even look at it or think about it. Hell, if you can save even more than $10 or $25 a week then do so. But the point is at the end of the day, if the economy goes flat and a recession hits, you have something of your own to fall back on instead of depending on other people, the government, or your retirement to help you out.
Things really can be worse
Here in America we know what we’re dealing with, with our own inflation, gas prices, second bad president, and the housing crisis, but we have to remember that what we’re going through literally is a walk in the park compared to the hellacious situations in Ukraine, Sri Lanka’s complete bankruptcy and crippled society at the moment, and the enormously unusual heatwaves across Europe as well as their own dead heat oil situation with Putin.
America’s hurt is bad, and many are feeling it, but we have to remember that we’re still doing a lot better than other societies around the world right now. I’m not saying we can’t complain, but we do need to remember that it can be a hell of a lot worse. We still have food and clean water, we still have a job, we can still drive around, and we can still eat out. So in the midst of inflation or “recession fears,” think about how fortunate we still are. But also be wise about how to survive it as well.
Namaste, and good luck.