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How Getting Through Hard Times Makes Us Stronger

Discouragement plagues all of us from time to time. If you’re discouraged about your situation — be it financial, family, job or just basic uncertainty about the future — there are some things you can do to counter those feelings and attitudes. The most important is to know this will not last forever.

Let’s say your neighbor just got a fabulous, brand-new vehicle. You are overwhelmed by feelings of desire and envy. There was a time when you would begin immediately to find a way to get a new car, too. But things are different now. You have a new set of values. You no longer make financial decisions impulsively.

The car you have already is paid for and meets your family’s current needs. But still, those feelings are bubbling up. Just as soon as you recognize them, start erasing!

Replace those destructive attitudes with thoughts of paying for your next vehicle with cash — of not making huge monthly payments, not paying triple insurance premiums, not paying $400 for the annual registration fee, not forking over $600 for that 50,000-mile tuneup.

You can choose to counter negative attitudes by replacing them quickly with positive ones. Here are some examples:

— I never have enough money. I am so thankful for a regular paycheck.

— It’s not my fault. Even though I wasn’t 100% to blame, I take full responsibility — I will find a way through!

— This is too difficult. This is challenging!

— I want it now! Waiting builds my character.

No matter what’s going on, things are not hopeless. Consider some things you can do starting now — today — to get back on track:


Your attitude — the way you respond to life and all of its circumstances — is more important than anything. It is more important than your past struggles or successes, than education or experience.

It is more important than how much money you have, how much you owe, what you would like to do or where you would like to go. When you face tough times, your attitude will be either your greatest asset or worst liability.

The key to changing your attitude is to reprogram your mind. Whatever you choose to focus on is what you will move toward.


Figure out exactly what you earn, what you own and what you owe.

What insurance do you have? How long would it take your unemployment benefits to kick in? Do you have enough cash to bridge the gap?


It’s a simple strategy: Spend less than you earn. Stop living paycheck to paycheck. Start swimming against the tide of the consumer credit culture that says you can have it all while making it possible for you to spend consistently more than you earn.

A good rule of thumb: Adjust your lifestyle so that it fits within 80% of your income. Start NOW to cut a little from every area of your spending. Take it one step at a time. You will be amazed at how quickly your financial picture will change for the better.


No matter where you live or work, the future is uncertain. You do not know when you and your income are going to temporarily part company. Start right now to accumulate cash. Don’t stop until you have squirreled away an amount that will pay your bills for a full three months (six is better). Then leave it alone. Don’t borrow from it or play around with it in any way. This is a sacred sum because it could mean the difference between survival and disaster in lean times.


Stress not only is hazardous to your health but also can make otherwise tolerable events of life unbearable.

Stress skews your judgment and makes you more prone to make hasty, stupid financial decisions. Releasing the stress in your life will help to clear your mind so you can manage your finances calmly and intelligently.

For every one thing that goes wrong, there are 100 blessings. Count them.


If your employer downsizes, some will lose their jobs. And many will not. Make sure you’re one of the latter.

Keep your expense account significantly below your authorized amount. Don’t complain, but instead develop authentic gratitude for your job. Don’t whine, demand or play workplace politics. No Instagram on company time. Keep a low profile. Do more than is required without demanding recognition.


They are the natural outgrowth of a stunted economy. When going through tough times, brace yourself for the onslaught. You’ll be able to paper a small room in your home with all of the preapproved offers for credit cards, loans and “opportunities” to get rich quick.

Run from anything that promises instant wealth with little work. Shun new credit because it will lead to new debt.


Going through hard times makes us stronger. Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. Get tough!

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Mary Hunt

Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/ . This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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